It’s dark, disturbing, and greasy. No, not boiled eel. Not Severus Snape either. Meet Malaysia’s least popular legend: Orang Minyak, better known as “Oily Man”. He wants to meet you. Of course, if you believe what locals say about this monster, he more than wants to meet you.
Prowling at night dressed in nothing but a pair of tighty whities and slathered with black, slimy goo to conceal himself in shadows, orang minyak is believed to prowl the villages and cities of Southeast Asia. Technically, he’s human, but legend says he’s the result of “a black magic ritual gone wrong” wherein the poor man made some type of deal with the devil himself. Caught up on some “dark spell”, he creeps into open windows to seek out victims. Once he has raped 40 virgins (or some other number between one and 99, depending on the version of the tale you hear), the devil will grant him whatever it was he wished for during the ritual. It could be beauty or charisma, perhaps even a million dollars.
Some believe the orang minyak is capable of walking through walls, rendering himself invisible, or “vanishing into thin air” (all tricks he learned through black magic). This power is believed to stem from sucking the water out of the jantung pisang (bud of a banana flower). But just in case those tricks don’t help him escape his pursuers, the black, greasy coating on his body is supposed to make him too slick to capture and help him squeeze his way through the smallest of spaces. Often described as resembling Spider-Man (or at least his nemesis and dark doppleganger Venom), he supposedly is capable of crawling and leaping with superhuman abilities.
Sounds like you’re typical silly legend, right? Well, the people of Malaysia don’t think it’s a laughing matter. A recent wave of sightings has caused another panic among citizens. One family in Gombak, Selangor, was so terrified after repeated visitations by an orang minyak beginning on Christmas Eve that they fled their home. It was reported that police found “black footprints” outside the house, but there wasn’t much that officers could do about it. Most Malaysians don’t trust the police to protect them from the greasy black rapist anyway. During the last Month of December, the townspeople, armed with flashlights and hefty sticks, took action themselves and banded together in small groups of 5 to 10 people to search the nearby Batu Caves for the black menace. The week after Christmas, following the Satar family’s flight from their home, about 200 citizens armed with machetes and axes formed mobs to go after the orang minyak vigilante-style.
Villager Aslam Khan, 33, witnessed two of these creatures in Kampung Laksamana. One—a tall, bald, stocky one “breathing really loudly, like a cow”—was drinking water from a garden hose around two in the morning. The other was thin with curly hair and climbed from an alleyway to a roof and out of sight when he shined his flashlight at it. Several other witnesses have spoken with reporters about their own recent encounters.
Stories of this creature have been around for decades. It’s such an iconic creature in the minds of Malaysians that two horror films—Sumpah Orang Minyak or “Curse of the Oily Man”(1958) and The Oily Maniac (1976)—have been made about it. But this is no fictional movie monster according to Malays.
In a land with dozens of terrific creepy legends, it can be difficult to keep track of all the beasts lurking around. Aside from the orang minyak, similar legends exist across Indonesia including the orang bati (“flying man”), orang pendek (“short man”), orang ekor (“tailed man”), orang mawas (“orangutan man”), and orang gadang (“big man”).