Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)

Orca_KW

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Cast: Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, Will Sampson

Synopsis: A fisherman is terrorised by a psychic killer whale after he murders the whale’s mate and forces it to miscarry all over his boat….yeah, that actually happens in this movie.

I have mentioned in previous posts that Jaws is one of my all-time favourite films. Jaws virtually has it all. However, it is missing one thing: a psychic whale with a taste for revenge. Orca: The Killer Whale is a lot like those movies you see on the SciFi channel. You know, the kind of films starring Tara Reid. However, Orca: The Killer Whale has a delightful grindhouse feel to it rather than a stink of desperation which is what you get sometimes with those SciFi channel movies. I had a fun time watching this movie and, although it was objectively bad, the movie won me over with its heart and craziness.

I have to applaud the balls of everyone who took part in this movie because it takes some guts to star in or write or direct a movie in which a pregnant whale attempts to commit suicide with a boat propeller only to miscarry all over the fucking boat. I mean, Jaws pushed the envelope by having the shark kill a kid but even they didn’t have Dumbledore acting as a backstreet whale abortionist. Throughout the scene I kept asking myself: “What the fuck did I just witness!?” This is why I love movies in the 1970s. It was a decade when filmmakers really went for it, even if ‘it’ was a terrible idea.

The whale miscarriage is but one thing in a whole parade of WTF moments. Included in this parade is a lecture by Charlotte Rampling where the gist of her lesson is this: “We know very little about killer whales…except that they may or may not be psychic.” Bull-shit science for the win. Also, the screaming shark murder scene was particularly funny as was the scene where Bo Derek gets her leg bitten off. Best of all though is the fact that the film was so low budget that they clearly couldn’t afford to film killer whales in the wild so they instead just mingled in footage of Shamu at Sea World. As a result, the film loses a lot of its horror vibe but adopts a more comedic one instead.

In some ways, I feel quite bad that the movie acts well as a comedy because what is happening on screen is really rather horrific. Anyone who has seen Black Fish will know the horrors behind killer whale fishing and what captivity does to them psychologically. The film’s motive is noble, showing how smart and sensitive these whales are, but the execution is laughably sloppy. Moreover, the characterisation of the whale as a psychic serial killer capable of initiating a vendetta was a total misstep. However, the film certainly cemented my fear of the ocean. Not only do I not have to look out for man-eating sharks but now I have to be on the lookout for pissed off killer whales.

High-lights:

  • The unwarranted Sea World footage.
  • The close ups of the whale’s eye….it is like the whale is saying: “I’m coming for you bitch!”
  • Dumbledore the arbortionist.
  • The low-budget special effects are kind of retro and kitschy.

Downers:

  • The unexpected miscarriage flashback took me by surprise.
  • Objectively, this film IS terrible.

Summary:

Orca: The Killer Whale is the sort of film you should watch with a group friends because there are simply too many WTF moments for one person to handle. Although it will never be as great as Jaws, Orca: The Killer Whale can be a lot of fun if you’re in the right mind for it. Just don’t be surprised when you see the whale foetus.  

8.5/10

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2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Great, Horror

2 responses to “Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)

  1. Ha, Ha, this is one of those films that I had seen as a kid and thought it was good, but rewatched years later and had that WTF expression thru the entire film.

  2. Oh my god. I have to see this film, immediately. Sounds like an excellent balance between horrible and amazing.

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