Thursday, November 11, 2010

Orca (1977)

I’ve only been traumatized by two movies, both of which were horror pictures I saw when I was too young to handle them. Alien (1979) sent me running to the lobby when I first saw it at age 10; I didn’t get past the chest-burster sequence until I revisited the picture years later. Orca, on the other hand, messed me up so badly when I saw it at 8 years old that I’ve never had the nerve to watch it again. My memory of the picture is so vivid, however, that I can safely categorize the Dino De Laurentiis production as a nasty bit of post-Jaws fishploitation suitable only for the most masochistic of moviegoers. Richard Harris, well on the way to burning his career to a crisp, plays a whaler who yanks a pregnant female orca onto his boat, then watches in horror as she gives birth while suspended over his deck, dropping her offspring right in front of him. Harris shoves the dead baby whale into the waves while the daddy orca (the paterfishmalias, if you will) glowers at Harris. And so begins one of the most outrageous revenge tales in cinema history; rather like the execrable Jaws: The Revenge (1987), Orca asks viewers to believe that a fish will seek out people who matter to a particular human and then chomp those people out of spite. (One of the victims is a pre-“10” Bo Derek, whose lovely leg becomes a Shamu appetizer.) If memory serves, the climax of the movie involves Harris standing on an ice floe until the orca hits the thing with its tail, sending Harris sailing into the side of an iceberg. If you’ve got the stomach to watch this grisly flick in order to confirm or disprove my recollection, be my guest. As for me, I’m still trying to wash this deranged movie from my eyes more than thirty years later. Oh, and for the full-on post-Jaws De Laurentiis treatment, don’t deny yourself the equally bizarre experiences of King Kong (1976) and The White Buffalo (1977).

Orca: LAME


Heli0tr0pe said...

Ben detto, amico!

Riposi in pace, caro Dino!!!

-- Timoteo
(aka Verde Straniero Pulcino)

adam said...

Your memory is remarkably accurate. I will say the one thing Orca had (and has) going for it is a beautiful, and haunting, score.

Rinaldo Baita said...

...and not a word on the female lead, Charlotte Rampling, wife of the french electronic musician Jeam Michel Jarre ? They were, in my opinion one of the seventiest couple of the seventies. The soundtrack, however, is the work of the great Ennio Morricone...