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Orca: The Killer Whale! (1977) Blu-ray Review

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Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)

In the wake of composer Ennio Morricone’s passing, there are few things as beautiful and as moving as his score set to the playful opening of prolific movie mogul Dino De LaurentiisOrca: The Killer Whale!  Sure, this is a JAWS rip-off, but watching those beautiful beasts hurl themselves out of the water in deeply poetic fashion as Morricone’s strings and jangly guitar plays at the beginning is a beautiful thing, hinting at the tragedy and the horror of things to come.

"The beauty here lies in Ted Moore’s cinematography of Newfoundland. The pictures mesh well with the score from Morricone"


Directed by Michael Anderson (Logan’s Run, Millennium), Orca: The Killer Whale! concerns itself with the fastest and deadliest whale known to man.  They can be tamed and trained because their brains are powerful things.  The science behind these creatures - at least what we knew in 1977 - is pretty clear: they are probably smarter than us.  

Born with two flippers (each with five fingers digits each) and known to be savage predators while adapting to different environments, these creatures can master complex behaviors and are meant to be in constant motion - not caged.  And the crew of the Bumpo is about to learn all that the hard way, too.  {googleads}

Which is where this movie, as Captain Nolan (Richard Harris) takes up the challenge to catch one and sell it to the highest bidder.  Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling) studies these creatures for a living and she is insulted that Nolan - who is far more ignorant than the killer whale he is chasing after - would rather hunt than listen to her.  

He’s off to the races and willing to sacrifice Bo Derek’s leg (who stars as Annie, one of his crew members and, yes, it is her first role) as he hunts down a female killer whale.  But what he doesn’t know is that killer whale he kills (or does she kill herself?) is pregnant and the male - who watches the birth in a bizarre scene as the baby plops out into the sea to die - is out for revenge.  

Co-starring Will Sampson, Keenan Wynn, and Robert Carradine as Ken, Captain Nolan’s crew is picked off by this vengeance-seeking beast and the results make for a heartbreaking movie that has a few things to say about hunting animals for sport.  It’s a damn good thing that the killer whale is much smarter than Nolan.  Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)

Nothing might be all that original in Luciano Vincenzoni’s story and screenplay - especially in the wake of JAWS - but there is an interesting combination of some of Moby Dick’s themes as Nolan takes up Captain Ahab’s thirst for the journey and his obsession with killing a creature that he feels has done him wrong.  

The beauty here lies in Ted Moore’s cinematography of Newfoundland.  The pictures mesh well with the score from Morricone, but the movie - dramatic and otherwise - fails to build much of anything except yet another cash in on the success of JAWS, joining the messy ranks of William Girdler’s Grizzly and Day of the Animals as nature goes . . . er, wild.

Get the confirmation you need in committing sins against animals with Orca: The Killer Whale! now on blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory.

3/5 beers

Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- June 30, 2020
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Orca: The Killer Whale! is the story of one powerful being against another: a strong, determined fisherman by the name of Captain Nolan (Richard Harris, Unforgiven) versus an equally determined killer whale. When the giant whale's pregnant mate is maimed and killed by Nolan, the whale seeks vengeance: smashing boats, attacking a seacoast village, and eventually luring his human adversaries to a final confrontation in the marine creature's own arctic turf. Charlotte Rampling, Will Sampson, and Bo Derek (in her feature film debut) also star in this seafaring epic brimming with nail-biting suspense and spectacular special effects.

Video:

With a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Orca: The Killer Whale comes off looking pretty solid on this 1080p transfer.  It’s not been brushed up or anything like that, but the transfer is an uptick from previous versions, making Newfoundland look both dreary and somewhat romantic, for those fherman-types out there.  Browns and blues dominate this transfer.  The killer whale footage is solid throughout, with the opening being a plus in the dynamics department.

Audio:

A DTS-Master Audio Mono is the only choice for the sound.  

Commentary:

There is a Feature-Length Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Lee Gambin.

Special Features:

Fans get the feature-length commentary and a theatrical trailer.

  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 2/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

2.5/5 stars

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Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
92 mins
Director
: Michael Anderson
Writer:
Luciano Vincenzoni
Cast:
Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, Will Sampson
Genre
: Adventure
Tagline:
Terror just beneath the surface.
Memorable Movie Quote: "It is known that they have great memory and even after many years they will always remember the human being who has tried to harm them."
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 22, 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 30, 2020.
Synopsis: Sleek, intelligent, beautiful ... and hell-bent on revenge. Producer Dino De Laurentiis (King Kong, Ragtime) and director Michael Anderson (Around The World In 80 Days, Logan's Run) join forces to present the rousing action-adventure tale of Orca: The Killer Whale. It's the story of one powerful being against another: a strong, determined fisherman by the name of Captain Nolan (Richard Harris, Unforgiven) versus an equally determined killer whale. When the giant whale's pregnant mate is maimed and killed by Nolan, the whale seeks vengeance: smashing boats, attacking a seacoast village, and eventually luring his human adversaries to a final confrontation in the marine creature's own arctic turf.

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Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)

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