If you’re a Malay who loves ghost stories of haunted hotels in Genting Highlands and the Karak Highway Pontianak, then it’s time you watched these 8 classic Malaysian horror movies! These movies will definitely scare you, but they’ll also give you a look into Malaysian culture and beliefs.
While it’s true that Malaysia’s neighbors such as Thailand, Japan, South Korea and even Indonesia have a longer list of horror movies, Malaysia makes up for it in terms of character. These Malaysian horror movies are classics for a reason!
8 Classic Malaysian Horror Movies You Should Check Out this 2020
23:59 is set in the year 1980 and tells of a group of soldiers in a training camp located in a jungle island. The horror starts when a supposed crazy woman living in the same island suddenly dies at 23:59 (military time for 11:59 PM)—ever since then, hauntings have continued, always starting at 23:59. Including the group of soldiers when they find that one of their fellow army recruits horribly mutilated.
23:59 is more of a generic horror movie, complete with a vengeful spirit devoted to killing people and a lot of jump scares. Still, a lot of people love it for its story’s premise, good cinematography and production. But if you’re also looking for horror films that have that 1980s vintage horror feel, you’ll definitely love 23:59.
2. Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam 1 & 2
Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam or Pontianak Scent of the Tuber Rose (Fragrant Night Vampire) is probably one of the most classic Malaysian horror movie franchises.
The first Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam was released in 2004, and tells the story of a Pontianak or a restless spirit named Meriam who wants revenge for those who killed her. It was a major box office success, so much so that a sequel was created called Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam 2.
The sequel continues the story of Meriam seeking revenge, not only on her killer but his whole bloodline as well.
Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam initially faced many issues before they even began screening at the big screen. There was backlash over the misinterpretation of the word “Sundal” in the title which translated to “bitch or loose woman”. Of course, this was an unwarranted backlash since “Harum Sundal Malam” actually translated to Polianthes Tuberosa, a scented white flower that only bloomed at night.
Pretty fitting for the story, right? There were also issues with the soundtrack’s copyrights, and the movie’s official rating (18PL or for those aged 18 and above). However, this didn’t seem to hamper Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam’s success as it even gave birth to a horror movie franchise of sorts.
The director, Shuhaimi Baba, faced unjustified creative restrictions when making the film in order to satisfy the Movie Board Review’s rating.
Some of these conditions included having to make the ghost appear only in the character’s dreams, and not in any bloody, or violent scenes.
But if you’re still thinking twice about watching this movie, do keep in mind that it was once compared with the likes of other Asian horror film cult classics like Ju-On (The Grudge), with the review saying that it had the same suspenseful elements.
Released in 2016, Munafik tells the story of a Muslim medical practitioner named Adam who suffers many losses after his wife dies. Even weirder things start to happen when he meets Maria. Munafik was also a box office hit, gaining a RM17.04 million profit with just a measely RM1.6 million budget.
It also has a lot of good reviews, and was even nominated at the 2016 KL Film Critic’s Council Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Cinematography. It was also nominated for numerous awards at the 28th Malaysia Film Festival, 2016 Anugerah Skrin, 2017 MeleTOP ErAwards, and 2017 Bintang Popular Berita Harian Awards.
And like Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam, Munafik also became a sort of Malaysian horror movie franchise, with sequels Munafik 2 (2018) and Munafik 3 (to be released in 2020). Director Syamsul Yusof claims that he always wanted to make Munafik into a trilogy ever since he created the first film in 2016.
Dukun, on the other hand, is a 2018 Malaysian horror movie that’s based of a true life events. Dukun translates to “shaman”, a person who has access to the world of good and evil spirits. It tells the story of a Malaysian politician who was killed by a once-slightly popular Malaysian singer who turned into a “witch doctor”.
The film was supposed to be released in 2007, but underwent a “production purgatory” with no updates whatsoever. The reason for this was due to the possible controversy the film might get from adapting such a true high-profile murder case.
Dukun was only released in 2018 after a leaked footage got attention in 2012.
Distributor Astro Shaw eventually decided to release it, after almost 10 years of finished movie production!
Although Dukun was said to be based off a true to life murder case, the story takes creative liberties with how it tells it. Many think of Dukun as a lost treasure, a movie that was preserved over time and has aged like fine wine.
5. Khurafat: Perjanjian Syaitan
Khurafat: Perjanjian syaitanw, simply known as Khurafat, is a 2011 Malaysian horror film thriller directed by Syamsul Yusof (same director of Munafik!) It was Yusof’s first horror movie and directorial debut. It tells the story of a hospital assistant named Johan and his wife, Asishah, and all the hauntings they keep experiencing.
Like Munafik, Khurafat dabbles in black magic and other religious topics that’s often related to horror. If you’re one of those Malaysians curious about such things, then we suggest giving Khurafat a try.
6. Villa Nabila
Villa Nabila is one of Malaysia’s most haunted houses. Located in Johor, this Malaysian horror movie with the same name is based off of real-life ghost stories that happened in Villa Nabila. What’s different with this horror movie? It’s presented in a documentary style, which if we’re being honest, really makes everything scarier!
Villa Nabila’s story starts when a teenager suddenly disappears, and continues with a number of interviews with the people who’ve experienced hauntings in the Villa Nabila. It’s an interesting horror film with stories of attempts of demolishing the haunted mansion, and the Villa fighting back to keep its place in Johor in the most scary ways.
7. Highland Tower
Highland Tower is very similar to Villa Nabila, since it’s shot like a documentary and tells the haunted ghost stories of the Highland Tower. Highland Tower is a luxury condominium that collapsed in December 1993 due to non-stop rain and landslides. It killed around 48-50 people in the process, and is remembered as one of the most tragic incidents in Malaysia’s history.
In the movie, a group of documentary filmmakers explore the two blocks left of Highland Towers, as it’s rumored to be haunted. If you like watching documentary-style horror movies, then you should definitely check out Highland Tower. It’s Malaysia’s own, after all.
8. Haunted Hotel
Haunted Hotel was just released in 2017, but it’s actually one of the most anticipated horror films in Malaysia’s recent movie history. This Chinese/Malaysian/Thai horror film tells the story of the haunted Amber Court in Genting Highlands, Malaysia.
It’s a simple enough ghost story: a couple visit Malaysia for a business trip, win a lot of money gambling in Genting Highlands, and decide to stay for the night. Unfortunately, it’s holiday season and a lot of the hotels are already booked. What do they do? They check into Amber Court, one of the most haunted hotels in Genting Highlands, not knowing of the ghost stories or what might happen to them there.
Haunted Hotel is a major box office success, and is often featured in lists of best ghost movies set in a haunted hotel or building. So we definitely recommend you give this film a try.
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