Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Orca (1977)

The genre of killer animals was flying high during the seventies, and it started well before Jaws, but that movie made the big time and every producer - big and small - followed it's slippery trail and produced their own movie with dogs, grizzly bears, worms, bees and most underwater mammals and fishes except the dolphin (that's an idea for The Asylum!). Italian mega-producer Dino De Laurentiis wanted his own share of the audiences money and put a lot of money and stars in Orca. Like a friend wrote yesterday, killer whales doesn't look dangerous at all - mostly cute - but that is one of the strengths with Orca, because it show that even the cutest animal could be a bloodthirsty avenger! 

Nolan (Richard Harris) accidentally kills a killer whale and it's baby, which shocks both him and biologist Rachel (Charlotte Rampling). Soon he realizes that the mate of the killer whale, Orca, is after him for revenge and stops at nothing - not even Nolan's crew is safe! Nolan understands he needs to meet Orca on its own playground and goes out to sea to do what he has to do, to kill or be killed himself!

I've always had a soft spot for Orca since childhood. It could be one of the first movies in the genre I saw actually, and during the years I've created false memories of scenes that isn't in the movie. Ah, the magic of a good movie I would say. Orca is a big-budgeted and extremely well-made adventure. Richard Harris is asleep and not that good here, but it works - the highlight and real star is as usual the wonderful, charismatic and dangerous-looking Charlotte Rampling. The eyes! The eyes! Yeah, if looks could kill, even when she tries to look nice. I love that. Which reminds me of this interview Rampling did with The Guardian in 2001:

Christopher Cook: No? Well, passing lightly over Orca Killer Whale, let's talk about Stardust Memories. 
Charlotte Rampling: Just as well I had Orca Killer Whale, otherwise not a child in the world would know who I was. They couldn't see any of my films. What could my sons see? Well, they saw Orca. And they jolly well enjoyed it, it was a lovely film.

I love how the journalist thinks that Rampling is ashamed of Orca, and she just claims it back without no hesitation! That's a pro, that's a god damn pro!

Because Orca is a good movie, it's a decent movie with a wonderful production values, some minor gore and extremely well-made killer whale-effects. The infamous miscarriage-scene still haunts me after all these years and Bo Derek, who looks very innocent and "normal" here, gets her punishment for being a pal of Nolan with a very spectacular sequence. Another thing that makes Orca a great movie is the killer score by Ennio Morricone. Probably borrowed from some earlier project (which he did sometimes, because the main theme sounds very western-like). Like most stuff he did it's emotionally strong and melodramatic without any shame. No one did it like the Italians!

It also has a nice supporting cast of Keenan Wynn, Peter Hooten, Robert Carradine and Will Sampson.

Anyway, what's even more interesting is that good old Dino at some point wanted to produce a sequel, and it would be call King Kong vs Orca! Yeah, he would let the big ape go in combat against Orca - both resurrected from the dead obviously.

Could have been a blast!


Alex B. said...

Fair play to Charlotte Rampling!

Exploding Helicopter said...

I have to say my appreciation of this film is mostly ironic. It's totally ridiculous, the miscarriage scene, the implausible way Orca hunts down and harasses Richard Harris, to the crazed "psychic" glint Orca gets in his eye. Still I enjoyed it thoroughly and can't wait to watch it again.

Anonymous said...

"The infamous miscarriage-scene still haunts me after all these years and Bo Derek, who looks very innocent and "normal" here, gets her punishment for being a pal of Nolan with a very spectacular sequence."

I don´t even remember her being in this movie.

I thought that Rampling gave a very good performance in this movie. She is/was very professional.

Orca I remember as very dark movie.

Good review Ninja.


Alex B. said...

This is the first sea monster film that totally worked for me and didn't feel boring or retarded. Very imaginatively directed and the violence inflicted on the Whales was horrific, I thought. A good, honest, bloodthirsty adventure film.

forestofthedead said...

I found this film moving and the battle between man and Orca epic.

Alex B. said...

I agree, a very moving film.
The finale among the icebergs is so great

Ninja Dixon said...

Thanks Megatron! :)

And nice to see so much love for this movie!