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terror train | 35 years of the first and ONLY film directed by author Stephen King



You know that “if you want something done right, do it yourself” story? Well, that was the intention of famous writer Stephen King when he decided to get his hands dirty and direct the film adaptation of his new “Trucks”, originally released in 1973 for the edition of the Cavalier magazine, and later reissued as part of the book Night Shift, 1978. Maximum Overdrive, the title the production would go on to win on the big screen (here in Brazil called Comboio do Terror) was released in the United States and Brazil on July 25, 1986 in theaters and in 2021 ended 35 years after its release. To commemorate this true pearl of guilty pleasure, we will return with you to this horror film. Find out below.

In the second half of the 1970s, author Stephen King was introduced to the world. His horror books were successful in the hipster circle of the hippie counterculture – as shown by the Netflix hit Rua do Medo: Part 2 – 1978. The writer took it one step further and achieved a whole new audience by having his first book, Carrie – A Strange, adapted for Brian De Palma’s 1976 film. The next big screen adaptation, as iconic as it became, turned out to be one of the experiences most traumatic since the beginning for King. Stanley Kubrick’s O Illuminado (1980) is constantly studied, analyzed by fans and cited as one of the best productions of the genre of all time. However, one person did not like the film, and perhaps the one who needed it the most; the owner of the story: Stephen King.

Kubrick, the eccentric genius he was, took King’s book and turned it from head to toe – or almost. The essence and the characters were the same, however, Kubrick changed several facts, some character profiles and even the outcome. For example, Wendy, the long-suffering wife, is described by King in the book as a blonde beauty, a “trophy wife” who has never encountered difficulties in her life. In Kubrick’s movie, he was given the more mundane appearance of Shelley Duvall. In the book, Jack sacrifices himself and blows up the hotel with the boiler. In the film, he never redeems himself and tries to kill his grandson in the maze of plants in the middle of a blizzard – a situation that does not exist in the book. With all this, creator King did not recognize his on-screen story, although he offered to adapt the script himself and was turned down by the filmmaker. Despite that, King seems to be on his own in this one, as most fans and moviegoers alike claim that Kubrick managed to improve the author’s story, making it more spooky and intense – and less surreal.

Stephen King has reneged on the adaptation of The Shining, which for years left a bitter aftertaste in his mouth. In 1997, King would finally have his wish granted by Warner, the studio responsible for the original adaptation, and make a more faithful version of his short story produced for television as a two-part miniseries. King was delighted with the result. But that seems fair to him, as this version was solemnly ignored by everyone, and those who watched it regret it, calling it a monotonous aberration. Make bones.

Tired of having his works “crushed” on screen, Stephen King promises to get it right in Train of Terror. The result…

King’s first in-depth connection with cinema came in 1982, when alongside his colleague George A. Romero – another horror master, being the father of zombies in pop culture, thanks to Night of the Living Dead (1968) – they formulated Creepshow – Creep of Fear, a feature film which is a collection of five horror stories, all written by King and directed by Romero. After that, in 1985, King would return to theaters behind the camera to adapt Cat’s Eyes, another of his screenplay that would become a movie. This, however, is an adaptation of his previously released short stories – as opposed to the original Creepshow material.

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With this first experience in the world of cinema, the author was ready to risk a more ambitious position. Not only would he write the screenplay, but he would also make his debut directing a feature film for the cinema. With the slogan “I just wish someone would make Stephen King the right way”, spoken by the author and contained in previews such as trailers, commercials and posters, Train of Horror n wasn’t a smooth production and would face some behind-the-scenes issues – most involving Director King’s personal crisis.

Emilio Estevez is playing in a role King designed for Bruce Springsteen.

After Christine, who was taken to theaters in 1983 by John Carpenter with the subtitle The Killer Car Around Here, it was another Stephen King story about owned cars taking on a life of their own and rather murderous. Unlike the 1950s red Plymouth, taken by the evil spirit of its former owner, Train of Horror vehicles have a more incredible and insane explanation for coming to life – more in the surrealist vibe of the author. The explanation here is the passage of a comet through the Earth and its wake which made all the machines on our planet aware. It was Halley’s comet fever that persisted into the 1980s. Aside from that, there is also an alien explanation behind it all.

Teenage star Emilio Estevez, part of the so-called ‘pack of kids, then 24, plays Bill Robinson, an ex-convict who gets another chance when he gets a job at a gas station. Her boss, however, played by Pat Hingle (Commissioner Gordon of Tim Burton’s Batman movies), is a sadistic explorer. The dynamics change dramatically when the site is forced to host survivors of attacks from all kinds of machines that have just come to life. The lead role almost took the forms of Gary Busey, who showed interest in the film; a fact that would drive everything even crazier. On the other hand, King wanted to have singer Bruce Springsteen in the lead role, making his acting debut.

The main antagonists here are huge trucks that gather around the outpost, circling the area to end this human resistance. Interestingly, the leader of these machines and the movie’s big villain is a truck that carries toys and has the Green Goblin character head in front of his body, an enemy from Marvel’s Spider-Man hero gallery.

Fan of the rock band AC / DC, Stephen King did not miss the opportunity to invite them to create the soundtrack of his film, as soon as he met them in person. The director went even further and offered them an acting role in the feature film. This second offer was turned down by the musicians, claiming they were not actors. But the band’s soundtrack can be seen in the feature film. Another good deed from King was related to the Evil Dead franchise. A declared fan of the 1981 original (which turns 40 in 2021), King has learned that Sam Raimi is struggling to exit the sequel. Thus, King contacted his producer in this film, the Italian Dino De Laurentiis – who opened his production company Embassy Pictures here – to help Raimi with the sequel One Crazy Night (1987). In other words, this franchise also exists thanks to King.

Blood is not lacking in this duel between men and machines, imagined by Stephen King.

On the other hand, it’s not just flowers. And as mentioned, King was going through some really serious personal issues during his directorial debut. Being addicted to cocaine at the time, the writer admitted to abusing the substance while filming, unable to remember much of his experience in the role. It is even quietly said that George Romero, the author’s colleague, would have directed a large part of the film for King. While he doesn’t admit much, Romero’s behind-the-scenes presence was constantly reported at the time. According to the same rumors, during the recordings King sought treatment for his addiction and had to give up recording days several times.

Marvel, is that you? Stephen King decides to use the Green Goblin as the villain of his film. Or at least a truck with the character’s face on it.

Such a mess has resulted in a complete fiasco. Not surprising. With a budget of $ 10 million, Comboio do Terror didn’t even pay for itself, bringing in a total of $ 7 million from its time on the big screen. Critics at the time slaughtered the film, and it currently has a paltry 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Even director Stephen King denies the job, calling it a “silly movie.” Ultimately, Train of Terror boils down to 1 hour and 40 minutes of machines chasing and killing humans. It goes without saying that 35 years later, the feature film is resurfacing as a cult and being rediscovered in the age of video rental. Proof of its quality is another five cents.

Stephen King has already made two conflicting statements regarding his directorial debut. When asked why he had never made another movie, King replied, “Have you ever seen Train of Horror? », Thus guaranteeing the interviewer’s response. On the other hand, he said years later that maybe one day he wanted to try directing another movie, this time clean and understated – as he’s been doing for years. In the era of re-using pre-established brands, it is high time that not only King ventured back into the helm of a film, but Comboio do Terror also received a reinterpretation in pop culture, whether under the form of a series, a remake or a reboot. . Well, at least a new Christine is coming, into the hands of Blumhouse …

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