In the wake of Steven Speilberg’s mega-budget blockbuster and film classic Jaws, it seems that every producer under the sun decided to make a movie about a killer animal, be it a bear (Grizzly) or giant rats and chickens (Food of the Gods) and everything in between (Day of the Animals). But none of these exploitation rip-offs are as legendary, nor as strangely obnoxious as Orca The Killer Whale, made by Dino de Laurentiis, the same man who gave us Flash Gordon and Max Von Sydow in a Fu Manchu moustache.
But the movie is actually not bad. It’s story deals with a group of fishermen, led by the always-ready-to-overact Richard Harris, who accidentally hit a killer whale. They are able to capture it, but then the killer whale decides to give birth and abort it’s baby, a latexy fetus which the characters decide to hose away. The scene is pretty awful and disgusting, but it still makes you laugh in a morbid sort of way. Everything was watched by the whale’s ‘husband’ another killer whale, who we’ll call Orkey, who decides to go Charles Bronson on their asses and go on a rampage of vengeance.
It’s very interesting that everything about this movie even goes on, as they could have easily gone to live in the city and forget about the whole thing. But no, they live in a fishing town (of course), and Orkey seems to have the power of God behind it since it causes all sorts of disasters and explosions just to get the character to ‘face him’ in the sea. And this is where the silliness of the film comes into play. In Jaws, the shark was just that, a shark, a killing machine who, sure, could jump on boats, but still it pretty much was a dumb eating animal (until the sequels, that is). Here, the Orca is some sort of sacred cow who has a conscience and is able to think like a man, something that is repeatedly drilled home by the film’s hot lead, played by Charlotte Rampling. Frankly I listened to her more when she was dancing around half naked and in Nazi uniform, but hey to each their own.
Rampling is very good, but it’s Richard Harris who steals the show. He over-acts as always and takes the movie to an almost hallucinatory level of ridiculousness by how serious he takes everything, just like the script does. The special effects are also pretty good, and I wasn’t able to distinguish between the real and mechanical killer whales, just like in Jaws. So yeah this is a rip-off, and it’s also really ridiculous, but I think it’s a pretty good adventure movie and I recommend it nonetheless.