Ernest Scared Stupid

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Ernest Scared Stupid
Ernest scared stupid poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Cherry
Produced by Martin Erlichman
Screenplay by Charlie Gale
Coke Sams
Story by John Cherry
Coke Sams
Starring Jim Varney
Austin Nagler
Shay Astar
Nick Victory
Bill Byrge
John Cadenhead
Richard Woolf
Eartha Kitt
Music by Bruce Arntson
Kirby Shelstad
Cinematography Hanania Baer
Edited by Craig Bassett
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates October 11, 1991 (Theatrical)
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $14,143,280[1]

Ernest Scared Stupid is a 1991 American comedy film directed by John R. Cherry III and starring Jim Varney. It is the fifth film to feature the character Ernest P. Worrell. It has him accidentally unleashing an army of trolls upon a small town on Halloween and the plot involves him joining a few children in fighting back. It was shot in Nashville, Tennessee like its predecessors Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam, Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Saves Christmas, and Ernest Goes to Jail.

Due to its modest gross of $14,143,280 at the U.S. box office,[2] it was the final Ernest film to be released under the Disney label Touchstone Pictures. All future Ernest films were independently produced, and following the financial failure of the theatrical release Ernest Rides Again, the Ernest films shifted to a straight-to-video market.

Its opening credits feature a montage of clips from various horror and science fiction films. It is highly likely that they were used more for their public domain status (making them free for the filmmakers to use) rather than their fame. Ones seen in the credits include Nosferatu (1922), White Zombie (1932), Phantom from Space (1953), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), The Screaming Skull (1958), Missile to the Moon (1958), The Hideous Sun Demon (1959), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Killer Shrews (1959), Battle Beyond the Sun (1959), and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).


Trantor - a demonic troll who turns children into wooden dolls to feast upon their energy - is captured by the 19th century townsfolk of Briarville and sealed under a giant oak tree. One of the village elders, an ancestor of Ernest, establishes the seal under the condition that Trantor can only be released on the night before Halloween and by the hands of a Worrell.

In the present day, Ernest and a few of his middle school friends are meeting in a treehouse on the exact branches that grow above the dormant creature. Old Lady Hackmore, a local superstitious hermit, finds Ernest and the children building the treehouse after Mayor Murdock's two sons bullied Kenny, Elizabeth and Joey by ruining Kenny's cardboard haunted house. Ernest tries to talk to her and is heard the story of Trantor. Skeptical, Ernest tells the story to the kids. Ernest inadvertently releases the troll. Trantor frightens Ernest and then goes after the children of Briarville. One of the kids, Joey, is going home from the treehouse and falls into a muddy hole. While trying to get out, Joey reaches his hand and Trantor grabs it. Trantor first disguises his voice as Ernest's, then transforms Joey into his first wooden doll.

Ernest attempts to mount a defense against Trantor, but the townspeople do not believe his story and refuse to provide assistance, but Tom and Bobby Tulip sell Ernest phony troll weapons. Ernest finds Ms. Hackmore and they try to figure out how to destroy Trantor. Two of the kids that were at the treehouse the previous night, Kenny and Elizabeth, come trying to find Ernest. Kenny and Elizabeth are followed by Trantor. As Trantor tries to get the two, he finds a boy on a skateboard. Trantor grabs the boy and carries him over the shoulder to the treehouse. He soon has his second victim.

Ernest and Kenny form a troll-fighting squad and set up traps around the neighborhood. At home, Elizabeth is sitting in bed and hears something from underneath. She looks and only finds a stuffed bear. She turns around to find Trantor sitting next to her. She becomes the third victim, meaning Trantor only needs two more souls to unleash his army.

Trantor later causes a disturbance at the school Halloween dance which culminates in a fight with Ernest. Mysteriously, the troll flees from the school after Ernest is covered in frozen yogurt. The townspeople, having seen Trantor with their own eyes, go to the treehouse and attempt to defeat the troll. At the same time, several local children led by Kenny (Austin Nagler) determine that the troll can be destroyed by being exposed to milk. They steal milk products from a convenience store and head to the treehouse on their bicycles.

Trantor reaches the treehouse first, and having acquired the necessary number of child figurines, begins to raise a troll army. The townspeople arrive and battle the now numerous trolls but are quickly overwhelmed. The children appear and begin attacking the trolls with milk. Meanwhile, Trantor receives greater powers and becomes impervious to milk. The troll army is soon defeated, and everyone believes that they have won. However, Trantor appears and quickly transforms Kenny into a wooden doll.

Ernest initially believes that he can defeat Trantor with milk, but soon realizes that milk was only effective against the other trolls because it symbolizes a mother's love for her child - and that the only way Trantor can be defeated is through love. He embraces Trantor and begins dancing, overwhelming the troll with love and affection. Trantor is destroyed, and the wooden figurines transform back into children (as does Ernest's dog, Rimshot).


  • Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell, Bunny Worrell, Auntie Nelda, and others
  • Eartha Kitt as Francis "Old Lady" Hackmore
  • Austin Nagler as Kenny
  • Shay Astar as Elizabeth
  • John Cadenhead as Tom Tulip
  • Bill Byrge as Bobby Tulip
  • Richard Woolf as Matt Murdock
  • Nick Victory as Mike Murdock
  • Jonas Moscartolo as Trantor
  • Ernie Fosselius as Trantor (voice)
  • Larry Black as Mayor Murdock


The movie received mixed to generally negative reception in theaters.[3] The movie debuted at No. 4 at the box office.[4]

DVD availability[edit]

This comedy film had its first DVD release from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on September 3, 2002. Mill Creek Entertainment re-released the film on DVD on January 18, 2011 as part of the Ernest Triple Feature along with Ernest Goes to Camp and Ernest Goes to Jail. Its third re-release was on May 10, 2011 as an individual film.


External links[edit]