Terrible Thursday: Trucks (1997 TV Movie)

There had to be someone driving with their head down, trucks don’t drive by themselves!

Director: Chris Tomson

Starring: Timothy Busfield, Brenda Bakke


Synopsis: If you have seen Maximum Overdrive, this is the same movie, but cheaper and even more nonsensical. If you have not seen that movie, Trucks tells the story of trucks. Trucks that come alive and attempt to murder people. When they come alive, they do not become anthropomorphic in any way (à la Transformers). Instead the trucks just stay in their standard big-rig form and attempt to run over our heroes, who get stranded at a backwoods truck stop. Why are the trucks coming alive? Nobody knows for sure. Some characters suspect tampering by Area 51, others suspect secret military chemical tests. Whatever the cause, the trucks are coming for blood, and our heroes attempt to outsmart the trucks and get rescued. Intercut with all the shenanigans are various vignettes of trucks coming alive and killing their owners, giving us the most amazing death scene in the history of cinema. Also this is based on a Steven King short story, so its supposed to be a horror film.

Why does it fail?: Trucks is structured like a horror film, which causes problems right off the bat. The sad truth is that killer trucks just are not that scary. When you are making a horror film, the killer or monster needs to be something that taps into a deep-seated fear that we all have. Halloween for example taps into our fear of home invasions or leaving our kids alone with babysitters. We all have anxiety about that, so when we watch a movie about a killer preying specifically on those sorts of situations, we react. So does Trucks tap in to some sort of deep fear? Not really. Sure, we might be afraid of being ran over, but its not really the vehicle that we are afraid of, it is the person driving it. Killer trucks are not a bad idea, but it needs to be the person driving the trucks that is the murderous psychopath. Having living, no-driver-necessary trucks does not incite any fear and never makes them that scary.

So from the ground up Trucks is flawed. But you can take any story and tell it well, if you have the skill to do it. Unfortunately director Chris Thomson (also known for such hits as The Feds: Betrayal) has no sense of how to shoot this movie. Since it was a TV movie, Trucks was shot for efficiency purposes, and it really shows. Most of the “tense” scenes involve trucks driving around a truck stop and the main characters trying to figure out a way past them. Does not make for a very appealing movie, if you are watching it for normal entertainment purposes.

Is it worth watching?: Absolutely 100% yes. This movie blows most other bad movies out of the water so hard that I am surprised to not see it on any popular bad movie review shows. Trucks is an absurdly bad movie, but also a gift to the human race that must never be taken back. It starts out so slow as the script builds up to the first attacks, but once it shifts into high gear (see what I did there?) the movie really takes off. I fear that I made it sound boring up above, and it can drag a bit, but the high points of this movie are wonderful. Sure, it is not scary at all, but nothing is better than watching people outwitted in the most ridiculous ways by living trucks. The story itself is a joy to watch, but what really makes this movie are little moments of absurdity. Trucks talk to each other by flashing their headlights and flashing their mirrors. The main bad guy trucks suffers grenade blasts and still lives to chase down our heroes as they run for a helicopter. And as mentioned above, Trucks has the most amazing death scene in cinematic history. Watch if you want below, but it is much more fun to watch in context of the movie.

Rating as a real movie: 4/10

Rating as a bad movie: 10/10


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