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ORCA - 3 Slimes
Rated R
Copyright 1977 Famous Films
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 6 January 2008

The Characters:  

  • Nolan - Richard Harris! Captain of the Bumpo. He cannot get over the guilt of killing the Orca's mate due to his Roman Catholic upbringing. In the end, the whale plays badminton with him.
  • Rachel - Charlotte Rampling! She is a marine biologist, but should have been an L. L. Bean model. Newfoundland never looked so good.
  • Novak - Keenan Wynn! Did anyone else know that the old codger was fish flavored? Let the "Feed Willy!" jokes begin.
  • Paul - Fuzzy fellow who becomes a frozen snack.
  • Annie - Bo Derek! The most attractive member of Nolan's crew, even with a peg leg.
  • Umilak - Introspective Eskimo. Wondering about the name? His father wanted to name him after a rock, but his mother wanted to name him after a boat. He is buried under several tons of natural sea ice on the deck of a white man's boat. The boat then sinks beneath the same waters that Umilak's ancestors once frequented by kayak to hunt whales. Even in death, this man is one of history's great contradictions.
  • Ken - Rachel's assistant and yet another Orca snack.
  • The Orca - Losing his mate and calf drove this male whale over the edge.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

What could possibly be more frightening than the shark from "Jaws?" An animal that can think, like a killer whale. Instead of a simple cunning predator, the intelligent menace is far more dangerous. In fact, the Orca is so clever that, at times, it feels like you are watching a marine version of "Home Alone." The Orca is Macaulay Culkin, while the fisherman are the Wet Bandits (Paul does have facial hair like Daniel Stern, but the resemblance stops there). It is a darn smart whale; you will see what I mean.

Seeing Macaulay Culkin take on a killer whale would be amusing at times. If the match took place in the water or on a beach, odds are the Orca would win. Sure, Kevin McCallister might temporarily plug its blowhole with a wiffle ball, but the whale is going to have the last laugh. Just imagine the kid grabbing his face and screaming, then being snatched by the legs and tossed like a ragdoll though the air. After landing belly flopping with a painful-sounding slap, Kevin would have just enough time to assume a back float position before the whale leapt completely out of the water. The boy's last annoying shriek would be cut off as the huge aquatic mammal landed on him.

Of course, if the arena for the battle between Orca and Macaulay Culkin was a house, the poor whale would just sit there in the living room, warbling, as the kid pelted it with buckets and coat racks from the relative safety of the staircase. The whale's name is not K'tha-jon and it does not have a waldo harness filled with tools. Fighting a normal Orca in your house would be messy (especially if you electrocuted it with stripped lamp cords), but a relatively safe bet.

Nolan is a simple fisherman who makes a living by capturing sharks off the coast of Newfoundland. During one hunt, he encounters Rachel and Ken. The pair of scientists are menaced by a great white shark that Nolan is chasing and Ken is nearly eaten, but a mysterious underwater benefactor saves the human from the boneless menace. In fact, an Orca rams the shark so hard that it bounces out of the water and ruptures. Blood from the mortally wounded shark stains the ocean red as Rachel tells Nolan about killer whales. The fisherman is fascinated.

The idea is that Nolan has never encountered an Orca prior to now. Sure, he has no problem making a living catching sharks off the Newfoundland coast, but failed to notice the killer whales.

Segue into Rachel giving a lecture on Orcas to university students. She explains that the whales (look, they are actually a species of dolphin, but I am going to continue calling them whales; you know what I mean) are highly intelligent, possibly possessing an intelligence equal to or greater than our own. The Orcas even mate for life; there is no warble, squeak, or whistle that translates into "I want a divorce" in the killer whale tongue. Presentations like this make me feel like a stupid hairless ape. Sure, I have fingers and an opposable thumb, but, for the most part, I only use them to fling feces at rivals or things that startle me.

Oh, like you have never screeched and thrown poo at someone before, especially after she told you that she wanted a divorce.

To the misfortune of all, Nolan realizes that a live killer whale would net a larger profit than catching a shark. He sets out to capture one with his tranquilizer harpoon gun. Everything, and I do mean everything, goes wrong. With no prior experience in sedating Orcas, Annie puts too much tranquilizer in the harpoon. On top of that, Nolan misses his target, the big male, and hits the Orca's mate. The harpoon and entangling line drives the female Orca crazy. She swims headfirst into the Bumpo's propeller in a desperate attempt to avoid capture. You can almost hear the whale crying ++I was born free. I live free or not at all. Death grants me freedom!++

Somehow, the gravely injured Orca is hauled out of the water (considering their tackle, the idea is absolutely ridiculous) and hangs above the deck. A screaming fetus is ejected from the whale and hits the deck like a sack of potatoes. Nolan stares at the carnage in horror before blasting the aborted fetus off the deck with a hose. Meanwhile, the male roars in anguish. The carnage does not stop here; that night the Orca attacks the boat and forces the humans to cut its mate free. Novak, who crawled out on the boom to cut the ropes tied around the captured Orca, is snatched by the vengeful male. The Bumpo limps back to port and puts in at the village of South Harbor.

The Orca pushes his mate, who died during the night, ashore near South Harbor. The grisly discovery provides ample opportunity for Rachel to castigate Nolan, who already seems stricken by guilt. Knowing that it must strike while the iron of public opinion is hot, the Orca goes on a PR blitz. It sinks two boats in the harbor and lurks in the waters near the village jetty. For his part, the sad captain only wants to drink and stare forlornly at the ocean. Eventually, Rachel calms down enough to ask Nolan why he is so distressed. As fate would have it, his pregnant wife was killed by a drunk driver years before. Nolan identifies with the grieving Orca and, just in case any viewer is too dense to miss the significance of the coincidence, later says that he is the whale's drunk driver.

What it boils down to is that Nolan cannot bring himself to go kill the whale, though the Orca demands a final reckoning.

Since the human will not enter his domain to fight, the Orca takes its battle to the shore. Get this: the killer whale breaks some pipelines, then knocks over a lantern, thus starting a fire that eventually destroys the village fuel tanks. As the flames rise skyward, the joyous Orca jumps out of the water and warbles. (++So long, and thanks for all the arson. Do not fling poo at me.++) Even that fails to stir Nolan to action; the Orca resorts to destroying Nolan's rented house (built above the water) and biting off Annie's leg. Finally, the suffering captain agrees to the duel. He will kill the whale or be killed himself.

If a super intelligent whale was out to get me, I'd probably change professions and become a farmer. Get me a big hunk of land, well away from any rivers, and grow corn. However, as smart as the Orca seems to be, it would probably show up at the farm one day and kill me. Nolan should have shot it while he had the chance. Look, that whale has issues, say fifty "Hail Marys" and shoot the darn thing!

Putting to sea, the Bumpo follows the Orca far into northern waters. Finally, the remaining crew - Nolan, Rachel, and Umilak (the whale has a few snacks en route) - find themselves amid thick ice floes. The boat is so encrusted with frozen spray that it looks like something out of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." The humans are forced to confront the Orca in a place of its choosing. Nolan's penance is to die brutally at the mercy of the very creature he sought to possess. All that Rachel can do is watch from her perch on an iceberg and scream out, "I told you they were smart!"

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Killer whales are the marine equivalent of Irish constables.
  • It is impossible to tell the difference between a human fetus and a whale fetus, except one of them weighs forty pounds after four months.
  • Aquatic mammals are full of helium (this also explains why their voices are so high pitched).
  • Having a photographic memory means that your eyes are filled with silver halide.
  • Every time you urinate on a stuffed Keiko toy, God kills a kitten.
  • Nero was reincarnated as a killer whale.
  • Never ask a killer whale to sign your cast.
  • One side effect of dynamite is sudden nausea.
  • The best way to get a woman into bed is hypothermia.
  • Blubber is twice as dense as lead.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - ++I want to hug you, but I do not have arms. I am sad in joy.++
  • 10 mins - Oddly, those two look exactly like the "wild" whales we saw.
  • 26 mins - The mother of it all is that the Orca's religion decrees cremation for the deceased. The whales have been trying to figure out how since the oceans were young and it is driving them nuts.
  • 40 mins - Nolan, you have a whale stalker.
  • 56 mins - "What is it girl? Is something wrong? Is Timmy in trouble?"
  • 63 mins - Richard Harris' screen test for the role of chief Jawa...
  • 74 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A BOOK!
  • 81 mins - Hey, I've seen her wearing a head wrap like that before.
  • 89 mins - The helicopter is not here to rescue her. They are chasing a Husky.

Quotes: 

  • Nolan: "If you're so sure I can't catch a killer whale, why are you so upset?"
    Rachel: "Listen, you won't catch one, but you might butcher a couple of dozen in the attempt!"
    Nolan: "Ah, that's not my style at all."
    Rachel: "So you refuse to quit?"
    Nolan: "That's not my style either; especially when a pretty and intelligent girl like you tells me that I'm dumber than a fish."
  • Rachel: "He deliberately left you your boat, because he wants to fight you, on the sea."
    Nolan: "I won't do that. I refuse. In fact, I won't fight him at all."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note orca1.wav Paul: "Nice going baby, you maybe just cost us a quarter of a million bucks."
Rachel: "I what?"
Nolan: "'Tis the truth? Do you know how much an aquarium will pay for a great white shark? Ten thousand a foot and he was twenty five feet if he was a yard!"
Green Music Note orca2.wav Rachel: "Now, these three brains are of a monkey, a human being, and this is the brain of a killer whale. We know very little about the nature of the whale's intelligence except that it exists and is powerful. In some respects, it may even be superior to man."
Green Music Note orca3.wav Here you have the Orca growling, the whale fetus shrieking, Bo Derek screaming, and Richard Harris taking the Lord's name in vain. Probably a unique situation, if you ask me.
Green Music Note orca4.wav Paul: "The whale's gone; there is no whale."
Umilak: "He's not gone. He hides and waits in the sea cave. The monster's message to us is clear: we must send him Nolan or he will torment this village without mercy."
Paul: "Oh, this whole damn town's looney!"
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

ImageImageImage
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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliporca1.mpg - 2.7m
The whale isolated Nolan on this ice floe and is playing with the doomed man. Experience the terror of being stalked by a thinking animal! Of course, that would be a moot point if Nolan used the rifle he is holding.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2] 3
Re: Orca
Reply #9. Posted on January 08, 2008, 11:23:48 AM by Flangepart
Check out the cip again. I diid.
In the 'Orca eye view', it looks like the 'hero' is pointing his rifle at the wee beastie.
So shoot, idiot!
Re: Orca
Reply #10. Posted on January 08, 2008, 12:16:40 PM by Andrew
Hey, I actually reviewed a movie that a lot of other people have seen!  Most of the time, I write a review and everyone seems to say, "You find really weird stuff to review."  Granted, a goal of the site is to introduce films to people, but it's also great to hear back from people about what they thought of the film.

Still uncertain where I first saw this movie, because I had always assumed it was at the drive-in.  Now I think it may have been on network TV.  The screaming whale fetus scene caught me off guard the first time I watched the DVD.  I had no memory of that scene and it's pretty freaky.  It seems to be a good bet that a TV network would have cut it out.  Screaming whale fetus is not good for the ratings.

The Orca is amazingly smart.  I wonder if it designed the alien whale-loving probe that menaces Earth in "Star Trek IV."
Re: Orca
Reply #11. Posted on January 08, 2008, 07:11:41 PM by Weltall
Quote
The whale's name is not K'tha-jon and it does not have a waldo harness filled with tools.
Mere words cannot express how much I love you right now. Startide Rising references just get me right there. Now if only Brin would pick up some of those threads he introduced in that book and dropped in all the subsequent ones but that's got nothing to do with the review, which would have been awesome even without the SR reference.
Re: Orca
Reply #12. Posted on January 08, 2008, 11:33:25 PM by MDKing
Didn't see this one, but I have at least heard of it.

Does that head on pic of the Cetecean Avenger remind anyone else of the Watermelon Monster from Drunken Wu Tang?
Re: Orca
Reply #13. Posted on January 10, 2008, 12:56:20 AM by Yaddo 42
My mom took me to see this at the theater when I was little, can't figure why except she wanted to get out of the house on a night when dad was working overnight, she hates horror movies and killer animal movies. I honestly don't think she's all of Jaws. I wish I had the giant cardboard lobby display of the poster art I remember from when we went to see it, it had to be 8 feet long and completely garish, it was beautiful.

I was so young I didn't understand the story at the time and that the humans were the ones in the wrong. Also even at that young age I kind of "knew" who Richard Harris was, he was a familiar face anyway, perhaps from The Tonight Show, and didn't like seeing him die.

I've seen it off and on over the years since, it just gets worse and worse the older I get. And Andrew, when I've seen parts of it on AMC in recent years, they show the orca fetus scene, I know it was edited heavily around when this was a staple of syndicated movie packages on local stations, because when I saw the scene on AMC for the first time, I had absolutely no memory of it and was thrown for a second.
Re: Orca
Reply #14. Posted on January 10, 2008, 02:30:47 PM by HarlotBug3
"If a super intelligent whale was out to get me, I'd probably change professions and become a farmer. Get me a big hunk of land, well away from any rivers, and grow corn."

Ok just don't answer the door.

"Who is it?"
"Land Whale!"



Seriously, log in so I can give you karma for that one.  BounceGiggle

(already given for the helicopter is there to chase the husky reference)

My wife worked at sea world for years and might actually enjoy this one, as it seems revenge is granted where it's due, for a change. I can also remind her of the party she took me to at her gay neighbor's house. A bunch of fussy fuzzy bears educated us on the term 'giving him the orca eye'.

Hint: It references orca looking up sideways...and I responded to the knowledge with a comment about chewing blubber.
Re: Orca
Reply #15. Posted on January 11, 2008, 12:07:01 PM by Andrew
Quote
The whale's name is not K'tha-jon and it does not have a waldo harness filled with tools.
Mere words cannot express how much I love you right now. Startide Rising references just get me right there. Now if only Brin would pick up some of those threads he introduced in that book and dropped in all the subsequent ones but that's got nothing to do with the review, which would have been awesome even without the SR reference.

The fictional universe he created for "Startide Rising" is full of possibilities and the other books I've read were good, but I read "Startide Rising" first and it has always been my favorite.  I don't like putting too many references to other works in the reviews, but K'tha-jon and the whale's quotes in Trinary seem quite natural.

I've seen it off and on over the years since, it just gets worse and worse the older I get. And Andrew, when I've seen parts of it on AMC in recent years, they show the orca fetus scene, I know it was edited heavily around when this was a staple of syndicated movie packages on local stations, because when I saw the scene on AMC for the first time, I had absolutely no memory of it and was thrown for a second.

Makes you wonder about all those films we remember from network television in the 70's and 80's.  Were there over-the-top scenes missing from a lot of them?
Re: Orca
Reply #16. Posted on January 12, 2008, 11:13:49 AM by Mr. DS
I rate the whale fetus scene as one of the most disturbing images I've ever seen in a movie.  And very little disturbs me in movies. Overall this film isn't a bad watch and Harris's character is refreshing in the fact he understands he's done wrong.  Too bad it gets lumped into the "Jaws rip-off" field a lot. 
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