Orca Blu Ray Review (Umbrella Entertainment)
Orca (aKa Orca: The Killer Whale) is a 1977 horror film directed by Michael Anderson (Logan’s Run, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, Millennium, Dominique, & Murder by Phone). It’s based off Arthur Herzog’s novel from the same name. The film was released the same year that it’s source novel was published. Notorious producer Dino de Laurentiis found inspiration & seen money signs after watching 1975’s Jaws. He made sure to find a fish tougher & more brutal than the great white shark! The score was done by legendary composer Ennio Morricone. Richard Harris turned down the opportunity to work with Ingmar Bergman on The Serpent’s Egg to make this film. He regretted making that choice years later. Bo Derek made her theatrical debut in this. Orca had decent success with a $6,000,000 budget making $14,717,854 at the box office but it got mixed reviews all over due to it’s similarities to the bigger film years before.
Captain Nolan (played by: Richard Harris from Gladiator, Unforgiven, Patriot Games, Camelot, & The Guns of Navarone) makes a living catching marine animals. It’s his way of survival & it helps pay off the mortgage for his boat. He has plans to return to Ireland someday after saving some money up. Nolan & his crew which includes Paul (played by: Peter Hooten from The Inglorious Bastards, Dr. Strange (78), & 2020 Texas Gladiators), Annie (played by: Bo Derek from Tommy Boy, 10, Tarzan the Ape Man, & Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!), & Novak (played by: Keenan Wynn from Piranha, Dr. Strangelove, Black Moon Rising, Hard Knocks, & The Dark) are looking for a great white shark for a local aquarium. Scientist Ken (played by: Robert Carradine from Ghosts of Mars, Humanoids from the Deep, The Tommyknockers, & Aloha, Bobby and Rose) is almost killed by it but an Orca saves him from it. This makes Captain Nolan change his mind on his current target. He harpoons a pregnant female causing her to lose her baby. He tosses the fetus overboard & the male Orca watches his careless act from the water. This sets off a chain of a events between the humans & the dangerous whale out for revenge! Al Swain (played by: Scott Walker from High Plains Drifter & Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze) calls out Captain Nolan for what he did. Dr. Rachel Bedford (played by: Charlotte Rampling from Dexter, Red Sparrow, Angel Heart, Asylum, & D.O.A.) helps gives the crew information about the vicious sea creature. Jacob Umilak (played by: Will Sampson from Poltergeist II, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Outlaw Josey Wales, & The White Buffalo) is a Orca expert & he knows the beast very well. He goes with them to help out with their unstoppable problem. One fatal mistake has created chaos for everyone involved. There’s no turning back, it’s time to face the justice!
This is the highest quality Jaws rip off of all time. That’s a pretty bold statement considering how many have been made all these years. It’s top notch cast, the entertaining script, the true to life production value, & the powerful score are all very impressive. The Orca makes Jaws look like Flipper in this!!!! He is much smarter & the water doesn’t stop him from getting his revenge. He is relentless on his attacks & no one in his way is safe. It has some nice gruesome moments in this. That animal is creative & I honestly felt his pain when he lost his family. They really captured his emotions & suffering while it happened. The close ups & reactions to it sold the motivation for revenge. Let’s be real, Captain Nolan was a unlikable character from the start. They tried to bring up his past & after time have him face his problems but it was too late by then. The Orca saved them earlier & how does he pay him back? He kills his family for money & it ends up being for nothing because his original target didn’t survive. It’s a good social commentary on greed & how it’s not worth it at the end of day. I was rooting for the killer whale the whole time & I wanted to see them pay for what they did. I love the killer animal sub genre & this is definitely one of the best from it.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. The 1080p (2.35:1) transfer looks great! The oceanic atmosphere & locations really stand out on here. For a late 70s film, it’s way better than expected. It features two audio tracks on disc which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English & DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. They are very impressive, you can feel the suspense & action while viewing it. It’s like it’s going on in your actual living room. Plus the music of Ennio Morricone sounds phenomenal on it! It also includes English SDH subtitles. Both picture & audio are home runs on this release. Umbrella Entertainment gave Orca it’s best possible experience so far when it comes to home video. It’s awesome to see this get proper treatment finally!
Let’s discuss the special features on the disc. You get an Audio Commentary with Massacred By Mother Nature author & film historian Lee Gambin. He talks about some of his favorite whale characters & films in cinema. He chats about the killer animal sub genre. He gives background information & talks about the history of the production. He chats about the cast, crew, & locations especially Malta. He says how this film has a western vibe to it. He brings up that Robert Towne was a ghost writer on the screenplay for this. He talks about how the Orca looks so much better than Jaws. He mentions Richard Harris did almost all of his stunts in the film. “Moby Dick ala De Laurentis: Martha De Laurentiis Remembers Orca” is a quick almost 5 minute chat with the wife of the late producer. She wasn’t actually involved in this project but she does talk about the production of it & the similarities to Jaws. She says Kong vs. Orca was just a rumor & she doesn’t think Dino was actually going to do it. She chats about the cast a little bit. Last not not least, you get a Theatrical Trailer. It also includes a reversible cover & the release is Region Free. Umbrella Entertainment continues to resurrect these forgotten films that haven’t been released in the states yet, HIGHLY recommended!