Thursday, December 16, 2021

Wun Blee Chung Dee (2001)


Wun Blee Chung Dee poster

One of my most hipsterish pursuits is my ongoing attempt to find great obscure movies that were never released on DVD or streaming. I spend a lot of time perusing through eBay, looking for the strangest yet cheapest tapes. 

More often than not, I find some boring Drive-In movie from the 70s where characters just talk to one another for an hour then a monster shows up at the end. In short, I've learned that the most well-remember movies got that way for a reason, and the forgotten movies are usually buried because they're bad. 

In one case, however, I found a movie that I would not necessarily call "good," but rather simply memorable. That movie is called Wun Blee Chung Dee.

Shot on a VHS-C, Wun Blee Chung Dee details an unnamed man in Utah who has a dream where a "mentally challenged Indian" tells the man that his Indian name is Wun Blee Chung Dee. The man's friend tells him that it means "Heart of a chicken," so the man puts on a Colonel Sanders costume and runs around Salt Lake City. The film features black face and a KISS debit card. 

Currently, the film has exactly seven views on Letterboxd, two of which are me. It's only ever been released on VHS and had a limited screening at the Utah Media Arts Festival. 

The film is very "midwestern." It reminds me of the likes of DEVO or if the characters in Napoleon Dynamite made a movie. It's got an almost Avant-garde sense of storytelling and humor. The best part is that it feels genuine, not like a student film trying to be artsy or anything. 

There are scenes that go on way too long, though. There are three instances of scenes where the camera is placed on tripods, at a medium-wide angle, while people improvise lines and try to be funny. Sometimes, though, they shake it up a bit. 

Like, one of my favorite scenes is where a 30-something-year-old man dresses up like an old lady and talks to Chung Dee. They go on forever and it becomes quite boring until the director literally feeds that old lady her lines. The director whispers a couple words, then the old lady says them aloud. Eventually, she starts reciting a Billy Joel song. 

There's also a scene where the director films random things on the street and says their name in an aggressive voice. So, he'll show a stop sign and say "STOP SIGN!!!" It serves no purpose, but it felt strangely artful. 

The best part about this movie is that you know it was a local hit. Like, everyone in a small town or a friend group has in-jokes about Wun Blee Chung Dee. It's a very quotable movie. My girlfriend and I have been referencing it since we watched it. 

Anyway, the purpose of this entry was to lift this movie up a bit. More people should watch it. It has fewer views on Letterboxd than some of my movies, which just isn't right. 

If you want to know more about this movie, visit its page on SkaryguyVideo, the film's production company. You can also buy it on this Etsy page.

Long live the chicken man!

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