Towards the end of Orca: The Killer whale Richard Harris bellows; “What the hell are you?” It’s a fair question that could just as easily be aimed at this obvious Jaws rip-off.
The story sees Captain Nolan (Richard Harris), a Quint from Jaws-like sea dog who is hunting a great white in order to sell it to an aquarium. And, as if to prove that this film is more deadly than Spielberg’s classic, said shark is soon obliterated by an unseen creature below the depths. Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling) comes on all Basil Exposition to inform Nolan that there’s only one creature that can do that to a shark; a killer whale. So Nolan’s attentions turn to capturing said whale. But in the process he lands a female who, as she is dying, gives birth to a pup that dies on his deck. All this as papa whale watches on in horror.
What follows is a series of confusing events as said whale wreaks bloody revenge on Nolan by systematically taking out members of his crew and causing chaos in a local fishing community that results in Nolan being ostracised. The big issue arises from Nolan being the protagonist but the whale being the hero. That’s despite marine biologist Rampling telling us that just because the whale wants revenge does that mean we should give it to him. The audience are almost certainly nodding a big YES, after all, everyone likes a good revenge movie. Think Moby Dick told from the point of view of the whale and you’re some way to understanding this mess.
Released on Blu-ray and DVD so soon after the jaw dropping documentary Blackfish, Orca (which is briefly glimpsed and mentioned in Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary) is either very timely or highly misguided. Some of the footage of the female killer whale being hunted and slaughtered is genuinely hard to stomach, much more so than if you witnessed the same actions being committed to a human being.
Throw in some extremely cheap looking effects, including rubber killer whales and Styrofoam icebergs, and Orca lacks anything you really want from a film of this nature. The monster seems to be Nolan but the whale is the one doing all the killing, albeit justifiably so.
The end goes some way to redeeming what is otherwise a misguided mess of a venture but by then you’re left open mouthed at the sheer lunacy on offer.
Whalesploitation of the highest order, Orca: The Killer Whale is dumber than a bag of spanners and only succeeds in being laughably bad.