What it has going for it: A good cast in Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, and Bo Derek. Hot on the back of 1975s Jaws this is a cash in yes, replace shark with killer whale and Robert Shaw with Richard Harris, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Jaws was fantastic, with this cast, Orca could be too. There are plenty of good ‘masked killer stalks teen’ films or ‘monster trashes city’ films. So why not another good 70s ‘big fish chases boat’ film?
Why it’s a letdown: The worst thing about this film is just how mean spirited it is. Including an abject scene of a whale miscarriage which rather than acting as a narrative device just makes you hate the humans, the filmmakers, and the film. We didn’t need to see the shark in Jaws undergoing emotional drama to accept that it was just a mean-bad-ass and we certainly don’t need to see this. Then there’s the very silly nonsense like the whale causing explosions and houses to collapse (all on land!). I like to think that the dead killer whale on the beach in Jaws 2 (1978 – one year later), lying there with a big shark bite taken out of it, was a symbolic gesture from team Jaws of just how poor this film is.
Trivia: Italian producer Dino Di Laurentiis, the ‘brains’ behind the 1976 King Kong, was at one point considering a kong sequel that would pitch King Kong vs Orca.