Orcs (2011) – Review by Sandra Harris Orcs (2011) – Review by Sandra Harris
Sandra Harris takes a look at the best Orc-themed movie this side of LOTR, a horror comedy called, well, "Orcs" (2011). Orcs (2011) – Review by Sandra Harris

ORCS. 2011. DIRECTED BY JAMES MCPHERSON. STARRING ADAM JOHNSON, MACLAIN NELSON AND RENNY RICHMOND. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Oh boy. You wouldn’t believe the gory stuff the DVD box said was going to be in this film. According to the box, the Orcs in the movie are ‘savage, monstrous creatures with an insatiable thirst for apocalyptic death and living flesh.’

They’re also (allegedly) ‘hacking and slashing their way through the national park intent on ripping apart anyone that happens to be standing in their way.’ That’s why I bought the film in the first place…! It was such a great blurb.

Well, ORCS doesn’t quite live up to its bloodthirsty hype but it’s cracking good fun nonetheless. Okay, so it doesn’t make LORD OF THE RINGS look like ‘a walk in the park’ (as promised!), but I still enjoyed it and I’ll certainly be putting it on my list of “Favourite Orc Films Ever”.

There’s only two films on that list, by the way. ORCS and LORD OF THE RINGS. I think that’s all the films I know of that have ever been made about Orcs. If you know of any more, give me a shout.

So, what are Orcs exactly, anyway? They’re these super-cool movie monsters who leaped fully-formed from the brain of J.R.R. Tolkien, legendary writer of the LORD OF THE RINGS books: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS and THE RETURN OF THE KING.

Well, I think he invented ’em, at least. Even if he didn’t, he certainly gave them immortality in his books which director Peter Jackson turned into the best movie trilogy ever, bar none.

Anyway, I bought this DVD because I was still on a buzz from having rewatched the LOTR films for the umpteenth time. It’s the story of a couple of park rangers who discover that they have a horde of ravenous Orcs hiding out in their national park.

This comes as big news to them. They thought the strange occurrences happening in the park were being caused by a bear. You know, that whole bear/orc connection there? Nope, me neither…

Their park is called Balancing Rock Park. Except that the Balancing Rock for which the park is named has had to be removed because park officials deemed the shadow it cast to be obscene. It was penis-shaped, to be precise. So now I guess it’s just… a park. This anecdote just about typifies the kind of inexpert shenanigans you can expect if you visit this natural attraction…

Ranger Cal is brilliantly funny. I thought he was a great character. He’s lazy, he smokes the pot he confiscates from the no-good teenagers who hang out in the park and he has curly hair and a splendidly thick moustache that would proudly grace the upper lip of any ‘Seventies porn star you care to mention.

He spends his time trying to get into the bikini bottoms of the girls who sunbathe in the park and he’s constantly clashing with Marge, his ballsy superior, who’s a lot like Lunch-Lady Doris from THE SIMPSONS. It’s been a while since this old broad saw anything that impressed her or lifted her heart.

Ranger Hobart (Hobie for short) is Cal’s junior ranger. He’s sweet and naïve, he looks up to Cal (God knows why!) and he even carries a little notebook in which to ‘make notes and log evidence,’ such is his desire to do his job well. When the Orcs in the park make their presence known, it’s up to the two rangers and a sexy eco-warrior on whom Cal is kinda sweet, Katie, to do battle with ’em.

The Orcs are hilarious. Unlike in LORD OF THE RINGS, there’s scarcely more than a dozen of them all told. Their costumes looks like a mish-mash of stuff from Wardrobe, thrift shop gear and stuff the actors were told to bring from home. One Orc is clearly wearing jeans and trainers. It’s brilliant. I love it. I can almost hear the director of this obviously low-budget horror flick saying:

‘Anything at all that looks a bit Middle-Earthy. You know the kind of thing. Helmets, tunics, leggings, anything at all battle-y, do you know what I mean…?’

Sadly, this raggle-taggle assortment of poorly-dressed Orcs is not as fierce as it promises on the DVD box.

They do shoot a lot of arrows at people, but there’s no evidence at all to support the taglines of:‘THEY WILL EAT YOUR FACE OFF’ and: ‘LOOK’S LIKE MEAT’S BACK ON THE MENU, BOYS…!’ Sigh. Talk about false advertising. Still, can’t blame a director for trying to big up his film. We all do it. Why, even as you read this, I’m trying to con you into thinking I’m a top movie critic. Gulp. Is it working…?

I’ll tell you what’s truly brilliant about this movie before I toddle off. Four or five scenes are direct homages to the LORD OF THE RINGS films themselves. You know the scene where Haldir dies in the Battle For Helm’s Deep in RINGS 2? That’s one of ’em. They perfectly parody the sad, unearthly music and the great slow motion falling over and everything. Phwoarrrr, Haldir. There’s a proper EILF, or Elf I’d Like To… Ah well. You know what it means.

The scenery and greenery is top-notch. The two main characters are infinitely likeable and it’s fun to have a giggle at the poorly-organised motley crew of Orcs, who apparently are afraid of… yes, you guessed it. Floodlights. Daylight they’re fine with, but a bit of light illuminating the night-time gives ’em the proper heebie-jeebies. Oh dear. What a sorry lot of monster-warriors they are. Oh, and the head Orc looks like an oompa-loompa. I’m just saying, is all.

I’m only making fun of them in a nice way, though. Not everyone has a Peter Jackson-style budget. Sometimes, you gotta make do with whatcha got, whatever that amounts to, and I’d never knock anyone’s efforts to realise their dream. Moreover (that’s a beauty of a word, isn’t it, moreover?), I’d definitely recommend this film to fans of both low-budget horror comedy and LOTR. It’s a great laugh and the film-makers clearly love their Tolkien. That’s good enough for me, folks.


-Sandra Harris

Email: [email protected]
Websites: SandraFirstRuleOfFilmClubHarris
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Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin. Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in numerous publications and she positively adores the horror genre in all its forms. She can be contacted at: [email protected] Website: sandrafirstcluboffilmclubharris

  • Orcus

    Oh, ORCS. Orcus’s bad. Orcus was wondering why they would do a movie about him

  • Dee

    Very entertaining review.

  • I_am_better

    There’s still time.

  • I_am_better

    I saw some trailers for this way back when, and was kinda interested. It just never landed hereaways n any form – theater/video or otherwise.

  • Kylo Ronin

    Cool review. Shame the movie didn’t live up to its promises.

  • Orcus

    Back to the Underworld?

  • franks_television

    Have not heard of this. Sounds like something I might enjoy.