There were a fair few "natural horror" films in the wake of Jaws. Some – usually independent features from Roger Corman's New World Studio – were pretty darned good. Others, the result of rather typical bandwagon jumping by Hollywood studios, were less impressive. Anyone remember The Swarm? One of the more intriguing, largely for the poor reception it encountered from critics and audiences alike, was the 1977 Orca the Killer WhaleYet as is so often the way, the film has over the years developed a bit of a cult following...
Orca the Killer Whale charts the exploits of Captain Nolan (Richard Harris, Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Field), an Irishman living in Canada, making a living catching marine animals to pay off the mortgage on his boat and longing to make enough money to go back to Ireland. A local aquarium is seeking a killer whale; if Nolan can deliver one to them, he'll have all the money he needs. When a school of Orcas is spotted off coast, Nolan forcibly puts a risky plan into action, but tragically harpoons his target's pregnant mate instead. Traumatised by the bloody murder of its partner and unborn young, and hungry for revenge, the Killer Whale assaults the boat and the fishing town in a desperate hunt for the crew. Forced by the community to stay and hunt down the whale, a guilt-ridden Nolan assembles the remnants of his crew including Annie (Bo Derek – 10) and Umilak (Will Sampson – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Poltergeist 2) and enlists the support of female marine expert Dr Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling – Swimming Pool, Melancholia) in a voyage to meet the great beast on the seas for a 'climactic showdown'.
Directed by Michael Anderson (The Dam Busters, Logan's Run, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze) and with a haunting score by the great Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, The Mission, The Battle of Algiers), the film hit the news when trucks carrying its artioficially constructed whales were stopped by animal rights protesters, believing they were the real deal.
Orca the Killer Whale comes to UK DVD and VOD on 14th April 2014 from StudioCanal. The DVD will retail at £17.99, a little pricey for a disc with no listed extra features, I'd say.
No cover art has been released yet, so maybe they're still cooking up some extras. Given its cult status, I'd hope so.