Orca – 1977 – The Killer Whale
If you want to find a serious film about animals attacking humans you need to go back in time. Most of those made today are really silly and ridiculous. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing of course. But movies that wink at themself and use every cliché in the book are seldom frightening. For that, you’ll have to go back to when these films were made to scare us and not to amuse us. The most known of these movies ought to be Jaws of course. And talking about marine films in particular it’s obviously true. But there are also a few others. Like this one – Orca!
Jaws and Orca
There are a few similarities between Jaws and Orca but not that many. You can see a few scenes that have more or less been borrowed from Jaws. But they are also as different as different can be. In the case of Jaws, the most copied creature Feature in the world, we have a shark attacking the small island of Amity. We have what has been a kind of calling card for these movies – the mayor denying that there’s a problem. Hence sending people to the shore to meet their deaths.
Orca isn’t like that. It doesn’t follow the same pattern. This movie starts with a fisherman trying to capture a great white. Soon something attacks the shark and shreds it to pieces. That is the killer whale! According to the movie “the only thing on Earth that can do that”. That might very well be true. From this moment the fisherman (Richard Harris) gets obsessed with catching a killer whale instead. It’ll bring a lot of money for him.
We also have this scientist (Charlotte Rampling) who tries to convince him otherwise. She’s the expert, she tells him about the Orca and explains all kinds of things about it. How vindictive it is for instance. That’s the key element for this movie. If the Killer Whale wasn’t vindictive, we wouldn’t have a movie at all.
Anyway. He takes his ship and goes out to sea. The capture of the killer whale doesn’t go well and accidentally the female whale and the pup gets killed. Since Killer whales as monogamous and stay with the same partner all their lives the male starts his revenge. What follows is a kind of Moby Dick story, just the opposite. It isn’t Captain Ahab seeking revenge on the whale, it’s the whale seeking revenge on the fisherman. In both cases, the life of the captain is ruined though. They are both consumed by the whale. metaphorically speaking. Captain Ahab gets blinded by his hate and the captain in this movie gets consumed by his conscious.
Orca might not be scary in that sense of the word. But it’s a well-made movie and it’s serious. There are no CGI and the creatures look fine all of the time. The acting is very good and it’s more like a drama than a horror flick. it’s definitely not a comedy as most recent creature features!