Terror Tape of the Day: Orca

Posted by Brian Salisbury - August 4th 2011 @ 10:00 am

I, like many of the HND writers, am an avid collector of VHS tapes. To some, collecting out dated technology is less a hobby and more the early warning sign of a serious psychological disorder. But there was a certain magic to VHS tapes that never made the transition over to DVD or, subsequently, Blu-ray. Sure the picture quality isn’t as good, but that is by no means the point of collecting. VHS represented a new and incredibly lucrative home video market and there were bajillions of films released on the insanely popular format. Many of these were horror movies and many of those never made the jump to DVD; the tragic orphans of technological progress. So therein lies one facet of their appeal. But even those films which are now readily available on the “superior formats” suffer from inferior cover art. In fact, compared to the beautiful, intricate, and often hand-painted VHS box art, lazily photo-shopped DVD covers are embarrassing. In other words, these movies came standard with genre-tastic pop art in tow.

In an effort to celebrate these works of art, we will be featuring one horror movie VHS cover every day. Be kind, rewind, and click on through to see this week’s tape…

Orca 1971

 

I love this film despite a rather unfortunate history with it. I first saw the film at one of Brian Kelley’s now infamous Horror Movie Nights and, on a whim, decided to write up a nothing little review.  This review in fact. It just so happened that the day it went live online was the exact same day that trainer at Sea World was tragically killed by…an orca whale! It was posted just hours before that story broke but I had a whale of time convincing people that the review wasn’t a tactless reaction to the event. Wait, we were talking about VHS weren’t we?

The Orca VHS cover is gorgeous…and oddly reminiscent of those oil paintings of nautical scenes that adorned your grandparents’ den. You have to give props to the artist who was given the unenviable task of making an orca whale look scary. This was especially tough given the fact that the producers chose to go with Orca as the title instead of the far more obvious Killer Whale. But the artist succeeds in proving that an aquatic mammal by any other name can still look as mean. The one thing I will say about the DVD cover, as much as it upholds my views on their inferiority to VHS covers, is that it effectively communicates the film’s desperate desire to bank on the success of Jaws

 

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