Bad Movies...That I Love! ORCA
Well, “love” may be an over-exaggeration.
Since this will be an ongoing series of posts, I would like to give a little background on why these movies are so important in my life.
You see, I’m a sentimentalist.
My father used to take my younger brother and me to the Drive-In Theater for triple features. The first was generally family friendly, the second would be dramatic and mature (sure to put kids asleep) and the third was usually filled with gratuitous sex and ridiculous violence. My father’s idea being that by the time the second movie was half way through we boys would fall asleep. This was dad's idea of babysitting. Of course, my brother and I figured this plan out and forced ourselves to stay awake for that glorious third film, pretending to be asleep whenever dad looked in the back seat.
Clearly, when a theater is showing three movies for the price of one, the quality of the films in question isn’t generally high.
So you may find yourself sitting through such classics as…
(Because “The Magnificent Seven” lacked racial identification. Seeing as there was almost no diversity in film in those days, racial identification was a positive.)
Here's their tag line...
Fire means ACTION!
How I LOVED blaxploitation.
(I have a fear of murderous cavemen and Joan Crawford to this very day)
(The film that made me quite sure that I was heterosexual. By the way, I would much later get to interview Ms. Welch, as well as Pam Grier, another of my sexual awakening favorites…but that will wait for another blog...if you can stomach it)
Anyhoo…Orca. The Killer Whale.
"Come on in! The Water's fine!"
A somewhat opportunistic fisherman (played by Richard Harris) pisses off a Killer Whale when he “accidently” kills its mate and soon-to-be-born child. The whale takes revenge by tearing up the man’s boat, home, friends (Bo Derek, in her film debut, gets a leg bitten off!) and casual seaside acquaintances. This leads to a final confrontation as Orca stares down Harris (no, really, there are lots of close-ups of Orca giving the stink-eye to our “hero”) before killing him in a most unusual way.
Note: This was clearly a stab at hooking onto the “JAWS” money train by Dino De Laurentiis. What! De Laurentiis ripping another movie off! For profit! Never!
Said nobody ever.
Here's the trailer...
Richard Harris as Captain Nolan.
The Brad Pitt of the 70's, ladies.
Harris does everything he can to make the film entertaining and there aren’t many actors big enough for this job. He and Rampling have no chemistry but she’s always been a bit of a cold fish (HA! Get it?!). He does have the haggard look of a down-on-his-luck sea captain and certainly has the acting chops to pull off a modern day Captain Ahab (of sorts). His best lines are screamed at the animatronic whale, the second best actor in the film.
“WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU!!!”
“YOU REVENGEFUL SON-OF-A-BITCH! YOU WIN!”
Charlotte Rampling as Rachel Bedford (an Orca expert)
Yes, that knife will take care of a 3 ton eating machine.
You already know my feelings about Charlotte Rampling. Clearly there are a ton of folks who disagree. She just creeps me out for some reason. It could be the eyes. She is here basically to tell Harris what wonderful creatures these Orcas are…in spite of their leg-ripping tendencies. She pontificates and agonizes well enough.
"You’re not a man! You’re an animal! It’s creatures like you science should be observing!"
Will Sampson as Umilak
"I will be cryptic now."
Probably best known as Chief Bromden from “One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest”, Sampson is in this film to talk mystical and die horribly. For some reason they seem to have dubbed his voice. Too Native-American for them, I guess.
"Even after many years they will always remember the human being who has tried to harm them."
Keenan Wynn as character actor working for paycheck.
"I really don't know why I'm in this film."
Wynn plays a grumpy old dude. No sweat broken here.
"Arggghhh! I'm grumpy! And old! With a hat!"
Bo Derek as Annie
"It's just a flesh wound!"
In her film debut (“10” was her next effort) Bo flashes her very lovely tan legs before one of them is chewed off by our very angry whale friend. As an actress, she is very attractive bait.
Orca as Himself
This was a plenty believable special effects performance by an animatronic whale, considering the time it was made. Although he wasn’t asked to do much…"So, sweetheart, your motivation is you’re with your family so you’re happy…this guy killed you’re family so you’re angry." He played the part well, especially in close –up. And lets face it, the sounds these creatures make do not strike fear into our hearts, even after hearing about how deadly they are with rows of nasty teeth and seeing this one destroy a great white shark in the very first scene of the movie. So our anti-hero had to emote with his eyes…and teeth…and a trademark chunk taken out of his fin.
(As translated by Richard Harris. No. Seriously)
“You’re me, he says…I’m you, he says…you’re my…drunk driver…he says…”
Three Special Scenes (NOW WITH SPOILERS!):
Orca jumps out of the ocean from one side of the boat, chomps on Robert Carradine, and splash-lands on the other side.
Orca takes down an entire house, bringing a new meaning to “ocean view.”
"Why, Hello there..."
I would be remiss to not mention the final confrontation. Orca uses an iceberg as a battering ram/shield as he attacks the Captain’s boat. The Captain does get a harpoon shot in but not before our Native American friend is buried under an ice avalanche. Forced to leave the boat, Harris and Rampling end up running across the ice while Orca chases them from underneath. They get separated and Harris ends up on an ice floe that slowly drifts into the sea. Of course, Orca will have none of this and pops Harris into the ocean by dropping his tonnage on the other side of the floe. Now here’s the kicker. Is dinner now being served? Is Orca swimming around Harris to make him sweat in the cold, cold water? Nope. Orca somehow manages to sneak his tail under Harris and tosses him 100 feet or so SPLAT! into the air against a giant iceberg. Ouch. As the quite dead body of Harris slides back into the ocean, Orca gives one last “How do you like them apples, bitch?’ stare at Rampling, who will clearly freeze to death soon anyway. That choice of ending made me love this mostly horrible movie.