Is Orca: The Killer Whale the best of the Jaws ripoffs?

Just two years out from Jaws changing cinema forever, producer Dino Di Laurentiis wanted to get in on the act and the box office dollars.

The result was Orca: The Killer Whale, directed by Michael Anderson and starring Richard Harris, Bo Derek and Charlotte Rampling plus Will Sampson.

This would be part of a slew of Jawsploitation films, including Humanoids from the Deep, Piranha, Alligator plus many more; but is Orca the best of the lot?

While it certainly plays its whales as more sympathetic than Bruce from Jaws, Orca does suffer from some pacing issues but on the flip side, it has some superb action sequences.

The scene where the vengeful Orca takes out a home overlooking the harbour of the small town whilst targeting Harris’ Captain Nolan. Harris himself performed his own stunts and was often put in harm’s way for the sake of his art.

Anderson uses plenty of Orca footage but also animatronic whales which are extremely realistic, so much so activists tried to block them from getting to the set, believing they were real whales.

Ultimately the story is far weaker than Jaws, plus given Nolan killed the mother and baby Orca during the opening of the film, the sympathy you illicit for Brody and co. in Jaws is very much lacking here. It feels like Nolan has it coming during the extremely dark finale where he goes to a watery grave.

The score is from the legendary Ennio Mirrocone, and while it doesn’t compare to his more renowned work, it is certainly serviceable, whilst not hitting the heights of John Williams’ work on Jaws.

Outside of the Free Willy series, we haven’t seen many Orca on screen, especially compared to sharks, so Orca: The Killer Whale is quite unique in that sense.

What do you think of Orca: The Killer Whale? Let us know in the comments.

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