Director – Chris Thomson, Screenplay – Brian Taggert, Based on the Short Story by Stephen King, Producer – Derek Mazur, Photography – Ron Draper, Music – Michael Richard Plowman, Digital Visual Effects – Rainmaker Imaging, Special Effects Supervisor – Rory P.M. Cutler, Production Design – David Ferguson. Production Company – Trimark Pictures/Leider-Reisberg/Credo Entertainment.
Timothy Busfield (Ray Porter), Brenda Bakke (Hope Gladstone), Brendan Fletcher (Logan Porter), Jay Brazeau (Jack), Amy Stewart (Abby), Roman Podhora (Thad), Victor Cowie (George), Sharon Bajer (June Yeager), Aidan Devine (Bob), Rick Skene (Pete), Jonathan Barrett (Brad Yeager)
In the area around the Lunar truckstop, trucks suddenly start coming to life, driving themselves and pursuing people with lethal intent. A group of travellers and locals are imprisoned inside the truckstop diner. There they plot various means of escape from the prowling trucks outside. It is theorised that the trucks could have been activated by debris from a passing comet or military experiments at the nearby Area 51.
Trucks is a cable tv movie adapted from Stephen King’s 1973 short story of the same name. Stephen King himself previously adapted Trucks to the screen in his one and only directorial outing Maximum Overdrive (1986). This was widely regarded as a flop so exactly why the story was remade here is a mystery. Although it at least makes artistic sense – remaking a classic is an act of hubris, the assumption you can improve on it, the need to stamp new authorial signature over material that audiences hold in high regard, whereas the idea of perfecting a work that flopped the first time around makes much greater sense. And that is exactly what Trucks does – it aims far more modestly than Maximum Overdrive did and succeeds admirably.
While in Maximum Overdrive, Stephen King pumped the original story out with malevolent soda machines, drawbridges, goblin trucks and had humanity fighting back with rocket launchers, Trucks is far more contained and faithful to the original story. The short story was set around the location of the diner and the film for the greater part keeps it there, creating a tight bottleneck situation and suspensefully compounding it.
Director Chris Thomson builds much effective foreboding out of trucks cruising the wide-open prairie landscapes, creeping up behind people or just eerily sitting idling in the middle of the road. There is one particularly gripping sequence with Timothy Busfield trying to get the two teenagers out from a pipe while an idling truck lies parked over the mouth of it. The characterisations are effectively drawn, although Brenda Bakke looks frustrated and out of place playing a country girl.
The only major addition to the story is a trendy dash of X Files/Area 51 government cover-up UFO conspiracy, which seems flimsy as an explanation – the piece works much better as in Stephen King’s story, and its clear model Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), without the need for any explanation. The ending contains an effective twist surprise.
Other Stephen King genre adaptations include:- Carrie (1976), Salem’s Lot (1979), The Shining (1980), Christine (1983), Cujo (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), Children of the Corn (1984), Firestarter (1984), Cat’s Eye (1985), Silver Bullet (1985), The Running Man (1987), Pet Sematary (1989), Graveyard Shift (1990), It (tv mini-series, 1990), Misery (1990), a segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Sometimes They Come Back (1991), The Lawnmower Man (1992), The Dark Half (1993), Needful Things (1993), The Tommyknockers (tv mini-series, 1993), The Stand (tv mini-series, 1994), The Langoliers (tv mini-series, 1995), The Mangler (1995), Thinner (1996), The Night Flier (1997), Quicksilver Highway (1997), The Shining (tv mini-series, 1997), Apt Pupil (1998), The Green Mile (1999), The Dead Zone (tv series, 2001-2), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), Carrie (tv mini-series, 2002), Dreamcatcher (2003), Riding the Bullet (2004), ‘Salem’s Lot (tv mini-series, 2004), Secret Window (2004), Desperation (tv mini-series, 2006), Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (tv mini-series, 2006), 1408 (2007), The Mist (2007), Children of the Corn (2009), Everything’s Eventual (2009), the tv series Haven (2010-5), Bag of Bones (tv mini-series, 2011), Carrie (2013), Under the Dome (tv series, 2013-5), Big Driver (2014), A Good Marriage (2014), Mercy (2014), Cell (2016), 11.22.63 (tv mini-series, 2016), The Dark Tower (2017), Gerald’s Game (2017), It (2017), The Mist (tv series, 2017), Mr. Mercedes (tv series, 2017– ), 1922 (2017), Castle Rock (tv series, 2018-9), Doctor Sleep (2019), In the Tall Grass (2019), Pet Sematary (2019), The Outsider (tv series, 2020- ) and The Stand (tv mini-series, 2020-1). Stephen King had also written a number of original screen works with Creepshow (1982), Golden Years (tv mini-series, 1991), Sleepwalkers (1992), Storm of the Century (tv mini-series, 1999), Rose Red (tv mini-series, 2002) and the tv series Kingdom Hospital (2004), as well as adapted his own works with the screenplays for Cat’s Eye, Silver Bullet, Pet Sematary, The Stand, The Shining, Desperation, Children of the Corn 2009, A Good Marriage and Cell. King also directed one film with Maximum Overdrive (1986).