According to one legend, popularised in the 1956 film Sumpah Orang Minyak (The Curse of the Oily Man) directed by and starring P. Ramlee, the orang minyak was a man who was cursed in an attempt to win back his love with magic. In this version, the devil offered to help the creature and give him powers of the black arts, but only if the orang minyak worshipped him and raped 21 virgins within a week. In another version it is under control of an evil shaman or witch doctor.
According to legend, in the 1960s the orang minyak lived around several Malaysian towns. The orang minyak of the 1960s was described as human, naked and covered with oil (supposedly to make it difficult to catch). However, there were also stories of the orang minyak where it was supposedly supernatural in origin, or invisible to non-virgins, or both. The mass panic has also led to unmarried women, typically in student dormitories, borrowing sweaty clothes to give the impression to the orang minyak that they are with a man. Other defense supposedly include biting its left thumb and covering it in batik.
Reputed sightings of the orang minyak, or events later ascribed to it, have continued with reduced frequency into the 2000s.
In 2005, there have been cases reported of rapists covered in oil roaming around, armed with knives. 
In 2012, the residents in Kampung (Village) Laksamana, in Gombak, Selangor Malaysia claim to have seen and heard the orang minyak around the vicinity of the Pangsapuri Laksamana and Jalan Laksamana 1. The village had been buzzing with sightings of the two paranormal creatures for the last 10 days. 
In popular culture
The legend has appeared in a number of films, including:
- Sumpah Orang Minyak (1956), directed by P. Ramlee
- Serangan Orang Minyak (1958), directed by L. Krishnan
- Oily Maniac (1976), from the Shaw Brothers, directed by Meng Hua Ho
- Orang Minyak (2007)
- Pontianak vs Orang Minyak (2012), directed by Afdlin Shauki
- Bernama (November 16, 2005). "Orang Minyak Rapist On The Prowl At HKL". Malaysian National News Agency :: Bernama (Kuala Lumpur). Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "'Oily man' strikes fear in Malaysian village residents". 2 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- Serangan Orang Minyak at Sinema Malaysia
- Orang Minyak at Sinema Malaysia
- Pontianak vs Orang Minyak at Yahoo! Malaysia Movies