In Malaysia, supernatural beliefs are as diverse as the many cultures and communities found in the country. Here’s a closer look at some of the scarier spectres said to share our realm.
1) Pontianak: Perhaps the most talked about supernatural being, thanks to the myriad of Malay movies featuring this creature, Pontianak is believed to be the ghost of a pregnant female. Although they are usually portrayed as long-haired, pale-skinned, smelling of jasmine and dressed in all-white garb. They are believed to take on the form of beautiful maidens and prey on unsuspecting males. The non-threatening appearance of this creature is probably how it lures its victims before digging into their stomachs with its long nails and devouring the victim's organs. Pontianak is also known to seek revenge by dismembering male reproductive organs.
2) Penanggalan: Perhaps one of the more gruesome-looking creatures with entrails trailing from it's head, creating terror among any who come across it. The being is believed to be a female blood-sucking ghost. Miscarriages are often blamed on this supernatural being, as it seemingly has a penchant for the blood of fetuses and babies.
3) Hantu Tetek: Otherwise known as the 'Breast Ghost', it is perhaps one that elicits more laughter than fear with some saying that death by the ghost is perhaps not the worst way to go. It is believed that it kills its victims by smothering them with its huge breasts. Some also believe that the breasts are on the ghost's back instead of in front, but so far no one has survived to verify if this piece of information is true.
4) Mohini: Known among the Indian community, Mohini is a beautiful apparition of a long-haired woman dressed in a white saree. Mohini is somewhat similar to the Pontianak, which prey on men. Unlike Pontianak, Mohini is believed to be the soul of a lonely unmarried female who entice men to 'live' with them until the victims wither away and eventually die.
5) Pretni: Not so well-known in Malaysia except among true horror buffs, Pretni is perhaps one of the more vicious ghosts and should indeed be feared. The tale of Pretni originates from Bengol, India and is believed to consist of the souls of those who committed heinous crimes and are now cursed to walk the earth. They can take up any form and only distinguishable by their legs, which are said to point backwards.
6) Jiangshi: These are re-animated corpses characterised by the traditional Qing Dynasty costumes that they wear. These beings are also known to move by hopping forward, with their arms outstretched. It is believed that these types of ghosts leech the 'life force' out of it's victims, leaving them listless.
7) Zhi Ren: Remember Chucky? Well, Zhi Ren are not exactly evil dolls, but they are capable of carrying out the bidding of their deceased masters, which makes them pretty scary. The paper dolls, which usually come in a male-female pair, are burnt as offerings to the dead so they can have servants after they pass on. The problem, however, arises when the dead spirits aren't exactly pure in heart and make its minions to do the dirty deeds that it cannot otherwise do.
8) Nu Gui: Vengeful female ghosts dressed in white seem to be a recurring theme in many cultures, with Nu Gui being the Chinese version of it. According to folklore, this being is usually the spirit of someone who committed suicide while wearing a red dress. These ghosts are usually the spirits of those seeking revenge upon the people who mistreated or tormented them while they were alive.
9) Pocong: Another hopping ghost is Pocong, known to Malaysians and Indonesians especially. The main identifying factor of this ghost is that it is wrapped in the way the Muslim community shroud the deceased for burial. According to beliefs, the soul of a dead person remains on earth for 40 days and turns into a Pocong if it is not released to the 'next' world. This spirits then hops around to remind people that it has to be released in order to 'move on'.
10) Orang Minyak: A supernatural rapist, was made popular by Tan Sri P. Ramlee's 1959 film Sumpah Orang Minyak and still strikes terror in the hearts of maidens. Legend has it that Orang Minyak made a pact with the devil himself to obtain great power - but at a price. The creature was required to worship the devil and rape 21 virgins within a week in order to receive said powers. The term ‘Orang Minyak’ came from the belief that the creature is covered in oil, making them very slippery and hard to catch.