The ‘lost’ 1964 horror film Sitora Harimau Jadian by celebrated Malaysian filmmaker P. Ramlee has inspired a new movie, Sitora, which will star Wan Hanafi Su.
Sitora is the debut feature of Fangoria Studios, the newly minted production arm of US film magazine Fangoria. Variety reports that the film will center on a tyrannical shaman who preserves feudal control over a village by evoking the threat of a supernatural half-man, half-tiger.
“Sitora is a perfect example of who we are,” Fangoria Studios wrote in a press release. “[Our] mission is to celebrate genre filmmaking by providing a platform for scary stories with deep roots in culture, folklore, legends and the macabre on the international stage.”
“We believe that horror is truly global and has cross-demographic appeal. Fear is universal,” the statement continues. “When it comes to horror, everyone screams in the same language.”
Malaysian actor Wan Hanafi Su has been attached to Sitora, playing a character named Sir. The film will be directed by Diffan Sina Norman, who will make his feature film debut with the project.
Sitora will be filmed in Malay and on location in Malaysian villages, with practical effects that Fangoria promises will be “sweaty, kinetic, feral and, like a tiger, wildly unpredictable”. According to the website of Rangka Pictures, the film company founded by director Diffan, the movie is 98 minutes long and slated for release in 2022.
P. Ramlee directed and played the lead role in Sitora Harimau Jadian, his first film for Studio Merdeka. The original film reels of the black and white movie – which was apparently screened once on Malaysian television – are missing, earning it a reputation as P. Ramlee’s “lost” film.
Fangoria’s press release claims that the film was rumoured to have been “destroyed in a flood”, but Malaysian film repair company Repair Gambar Lama told a slightly different story in a 2019 Facebook post, attributing the loss of the reels to damage caused by improper storage conditions. The company has also offered a reward to anyone with an existing copy.
Sitora Harimau Jadian was novelised by P. Ramlee a year after its release. The book was reprinted in 2012 by Buku Fixi.
Wan Hanafi Su’s most recent project is the international feature film Edge of the World, which starred Jonathan Rhys-Davies and Dominic Monaghan. A Malaysian film veteran, Wan initially rose to international fame with the 2016 Singaporean film Apprentice and appeared in the critically acclaimed 2019 adaptation of The Garden of Evening Mists.
Diffan Sina Norman is a Kuala Lumpur-born, Los Angeles-based filmmaker who has had two short films go to Sundance Film Festival. It appears that his script for the movie, titled Sitora the Weretiger, was a recipient of a Feature Film Development Grant disbursed by National Film Development Corporation Malaysia, or FINAS.
Fangoria Studios was launched earlier this year as a development arm of Fangoria, which has specialised in horror and genre film coverage since 1979.