Curse of the Oily Man (1956)

aka Sumpah orang minyak
Article 4812 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-3-2015
Directed by P. Ramlee
Featuring P. Ramlee, Sri Dewi, Ahmad C.
Country: Singapore / Malaysia
What it is: Fantasy/Horror

A hunchback, tormented by ruffians in a nearby village, is given a another chance by a supernatural entity that changes him into a handsome man. However, will he prove worthy of this change, and what will the price be if he fails?

The oily man is apparently a creature of Malaysian legend, a human-like creature that was a serial rapist; the oil covering was to make him hard to catch. This is one of several movies based on the legend; it basically concocts an elaborate story on how the creature came to be. The title creature really doesn’t appear until near the end of the movie; for the most part, the movie feels more like a moody fairy tale than a horror movie. The middle section of the movie, where the hunchback is drawn into a supernatural environment is the most memorable sequence here, though there are plenty of effective touches throughout; there are a couple of impressive storm sequences as well. My print of the movie is in Malay rather than English, so certain plot details evade me. However, the general thrust of the story is quite easy to follow, and this is one of those foreign-language movies that I can recommend even to those not familiar with the language. All in all, this is atmospheric and well-done.


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