Watching "Maximum Overdrive" is like sitting alongside a 3-year-old as he skids his Tonka trucks across the living room floor and says "Whee!" except on a somewhat grander scale.

Adapted by Stephen King from his short story "Trucks" (has anyone so profitably plundered every inch of his material?), "Maximum Overdrive" would bring a shine to the eye of Ned Ludd. Never has a movie had so many car and truck crashes and so little story.

There is something that passes for a story: A comet passes by the Earth, causing machinery to take on a murderous life of its own. A truck stop, therefore, is the last place you'd want to be, but that's where the unfortunate cast of "Maximum Overdrive" finds itself.

*Among those suffering the zooms and vrooms of outrageous fortune are Bill (Emilio Estevez), a young ex-con with heroism in his heart; Brett (Laura Harrington), a hitchhiking vixen with Bill in her heart; and the evil Hendershot (Pat Hingle), who is called variously a "blank-head" and a "blank-head" -- King fills in the blanks, which is why, I suppose, he calls himself a writer.

"Maximum Overdrive" is the first Stephen King movie to be directed by Big Steve his own self, who proves that he hasn't got an ounce ld,10 of visual style, the vaguest idea of how to direct actors or the sense that God gave a grapefruit.

It's hard to even imagine a movie so impeccably devoid of everything a movie ought to include. "Maximum Overdrive" is sort of like "Convoy" without the good parts. It's also sort of like "Convoy" without the bad parts.

Maximum Overdrive, at area theaters, is rated R and contains graphic violence, profanity and sexual situations.