People at a desert truckstop are terrorized by driverless trucks in this adaptation of a story previously filmed by its author, Stephen King, as MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986). The film is all premise and no plot, a problem made worse by the clumsy addition of extraneous gory sequences. After premiering on the Sci-Fi Channel, the film was released on home video...read more
People at a desert truckstop are terrorized by driverless trucks in this adaptation of a story previously filmed by its author, Stephen King, as MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986). The film is all premise and no plot, a problem made worse by the clumsy addition of extraneous gory sequences. After
premiering on the Sci-Fi Channel, the film was released on home video in 1998.
Ray (Timothy Busfield) and his son Logan (Brendan Fletcher) operate a desert truckstop just outside of Area 51. Hope (Brenda Bakke), who runs a hiking service nearby, is heading home after picking up some clients, including ex-Air Force officer Thad (Roman Podhora) and his rebellious teen daughter
Abby (Amy Stewart), when they are attacked by a large truck with no driver. On his way to help, Ray is harassed by another truck whose driver he can't see.
When Ray and the others return to the truckstop, they find a group of driverless trucks terrorizing people trapped there. Attempts to escape or otherwise deal with the trucks result in death. Ray is puzzled when the trucks attempt to kill his son and Abby, yet fall back when he goes to help them.
He realizes that they need him to "feed" them with gas, and will let him live so long as he does so. At night, Thad and Abby head for the government base at Area 51 to get a helicopter, while the others hide in the woods. The next morning, Ray, Hope, and Logan are picked up and flown away by a
helicopter containing a shocked Abby--and no pilot.
Alfred Hitchcock's classic THE BIRDS (1963) explored the terror that is produced when a normally benign presence turns lethal; George Romero also toyed with this concept in various sequences to the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). In his original story "Trucks," Stephen King dealt simply
with the question of whether trucks that had become imbued with intelligence (never mind how) could indeed conquer humanity. But fantasy elements that can enthrall in a short story aren't always translatable to the screen--particularly if the filmmaker in question has less of a grasp on his
material than did Hitchcock and Romero. Here, Brian Taggert's script tries to fuel viewers' paranoia by having the characters discuss possible explanations for the phenomenon of the possessed trucks; this strategy only serves to frustrate and confuse, since the horror genre depends largely on
well-crafted thrills, and not necessarily well-founded explanations of the supernatural curiosities depicted. Taggert does leave some loose ends dangling--the most irritating of which is the introduction of a deadly toxic cloud formed by an army chemical research project which seems to vanish
halfway through the film.
What really demolishes TRUCKS, though, are a number of scenes which were tacked onto the film (per the end credits, which single out contributors to the "extra scenes"). The sequences depict characters who have nothing to do with the story being attacked and gruesomely murdered by other animated
objects. Presumably the film's producers felt that more gore was needed (and didn't care how shoddy it looked), but these clumsy insertions only serve to extend uncomfortably the film's running time and drain away the tension from the movie's otherwise claustrophobic setting. (Graphic violence,profanity.)
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