Orca (1977)

35mm film, Technicolor, 2.35:1 (Panavision (anamorphic))
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Michael Anderson.

Plot Summary

After witnessing the deaths of its mate and unborn offspring at the hands of , a killer whale goes on the rampage, tracking down Nolan, the head of the fishermen and all those close to him. Nolan is eventually forced to set out to face the beast…


* = uncredited
Director: Michael Anderson
Paramount, Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica, Famous Films N.V.
Producer: Luciano Vincenzoni
Script: Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Donati; Robert Towne *
Story: Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Donati
Director of Photography: Ted Moore
Whale Photography: J. Barry Herron
Shark Photography: Ron Taylor
Underwater Photography: Vittorio Dragonetti
Editors: Ralph E. Winters, John Bloom, Marion Rothman
Music/Conductor: Ennio Morricone
Sound Mixer: John Bramall
Costume Designer: Jost Jakob
Make Up: Neville Smallwood
Hair: Jorge Paris
Special Effects: Alec C. Weldon
Chemical Effects: Rinaldo Campoli
Mechanical Effects: Jim Hole, Giuseppe Carozza
Special Photographic Effects: Frank Van Der Veer
Production Designer: Mario Garbuglia

Richard Harris (Captain Nolan)
Charlotte Rampling (Rachel Bedford)
Will Sampson (Umilak)
Bo Derek (Annie)
Keenan Wynn (Novak)
Robert Carradine (Ken)
Scott Walker (Swain)
Peter Hooten (Paul)
Wayne Heffley (priest)
Vincent Gentile (gas station attendant)
Don ‘Red' Barry (dock worker)
Percy Edwards [whale vocalisations – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Orca… Killer Whale – alternative title
The Killer Whale – early title
Orca the Killer Whale

See also
Jaws (1975)

Production Notes

In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint about the film's poster which a member of the public noted depicted a scene that didn't in fact appear in the film. The ASA rejected the complaint on the grounds that the illustration on the poster was “an overall artist's impression of the film.” 1Screen International no.140 (27 May-2 June 1978) p.17]


Films and Filming  vol.23 no.12 issue no.276 (September 1977) pp.31-32
In Orca, as in King Kong, Dino de Laurentiis again anticipates the ‘mood of the times' showing the temerity of man in his treatment of his environment and giving his film a glossy coating of ecological concern. […] Once again, human beings are sharply divided into stereotype camps derived from the traditions of horror and sci-fi and given a facelift in Jaws. Orca brings us the misguided but heroic traditionalist (a doomed breed whether because of their male chauvinism or crude fishing methods is not clear); the humane scientist who sees the folly of mankind (an inversion of the scientist stereotype of the '50s science fiction film whose moral judgement was always wrong); the ‘primitive' (better known to many of us as the Chief in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) intuitively close to nature and saturated with the wisdom of his forefathers, a sympathetic fellow traveller of the scientist and her ‘university learning'. The perform with all the aplomb of those well versed in showbiz projection. They come, in fact, from such prestigious aquaria as Marineland Los Angeles and San Francisco Aquarium and have a nice line in plastic monster impersonation. Ironically the film's one real moment of horror comes from the the genuine plastic product – the female Harris captures, who aborts an enormous brown foetus on to the deck of his boat with a nasty bump, that makes the virile sailor hero blench. This kind of comic-strip gruesomeness pulls Orca into a stylish class which far surpasses Jaws and is continued in the fantasy of the exuberant fantasy of the ultimate struggle amongst the icebergs under the eyes of Charlotte Rampling who seems to have stepped from the pages of Harpers. Richard Harris I certainly the most fearsome creature to issue from the deep since Robert Shaw's incarnation of a rating old salt in Jaws. Who knows but that the sequel will dispense with the fishy element in the cast and show Shaw and Harris battling it out together, with all the ferocity the two ham actors can muster, the new style Kong and Godzilla. – from an illustrated review by Margaret Tarratt



  • Cinema of the '70s no.1 (2020) pp.36-39 – illustrated article (An ode to Ennio Morricone by Eric McNaughton)
  • Films and Filming  vol.23 no.12 issue no.276 (September 1977) pp.31-32 – illustrated credits, review (by Margaret Tarratt)
  • Halls of Horror vol.2 no.2 (November 1977) pp.14-15 – illustrated review
  • Hotdog no.77 (July 2006) pp.36-37 – illustrated article (Swimming with sharks by Jay Slater)
  • Screen International no.140 (27 May-2 June 1978) p.17 – note (Complaint rejected)


  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II p.292 – credits
  • Horror Film Handbook by Alan Frank – credits, review
  • Unsung Horrors by Eric McNaughton & Darrell Buxton (eds) pp.18-19 – illustrated review (by Daryl Joyce)