Ernest Scared Stupid
|Ernest Scared Stupid|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Cherry|
|Produced by||Martin Erlichman|
|Screenplay by||Charlie Gale
|Story by||John Cherry
|Music by||Bruce Arnston
|Editing by||Craig Bassett|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Release dates||October 11, 1991 (Theatrical)|
|Running time||91 minutes|
Ernest Scared Stupid is a 1991 American comedy film directed by John R. Cherry III and starring Jim Varney. It is the fifth one 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. It was the last Ernest film to be distributed theatrically by Touchstone Pictures. Due to its modest gross of $14,143,280 at the U.S. box office , it was the final Ernest film to be released under the Disney label Touchstone Pictures. All future ones would be independently produced, and following the financial failure of the theatrical release Ernest Rides Again, all Ernest films would shift 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, and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).
The story begins in 19th century Briarville, Missouri. Trantor, a troll who turns children into little wooden dolls to feast upon their energy, attempts to raise his race to dominate all by capturing five children. However, before he can successfully obtain his fifth soul, he is captured by the townsfolk. The village elder, Phineas Worrell (Ernest's ancestor) has him sealed under a young oak tree. Before being done so, he vows that he will be released by a descendant of Phineas and will finish what he started. In addition, it is said that he put a curse on Phineas so that his descendants would become dumber with each generation. Fast-forwarding to the present day, Ernest is a sanitation engineer and he is ordered to clean up the land of the superstitious Francis "Old Lady" Hackmore (Eartha Kitt), who is actually the sister of one of Trantor's original four victims. However, when she learns that he is a descendant of Phineas, she drives him away. Meanwhile, his middle school friends, Kenny, Elizabeth, and Joey, are working on a haunted house, only to have it destroyed by the neighborhood bullies. He suggests that they build a treehouse so they have the high ground. After much searching, they discover a tree which Ernest deems perfect, unaware that it is the same tree that feeds on the energy of Trantor's victims to grow pods which hatch into trolls upon touching the ground. After building the treehouse, Ms. Hackmore sees what Ernest has done and goes into a frenzy. It is then that he learns of the legend of Trantor and that 'he' can release him. Skeptical, he performs the ritual for the kids, and inadvertently releases Trantor. Scared stiff, the kids run off, leaving Ernest alone in the treehouse, where Trantor attacks him.
At that moment, Ernest kicks over a cooler and milk spills out, causing Trantor to run off. After running a distance, Kenny, Elizabeth, and Joey go off to their respective homes. On his way, Joey falls into a mudhole. Screaming for help, he feels his hand being grabbed. Hearing Ernest's voice, Joey thinks that it's him, only to look up and see Trantor, who transforms him into his first wooden doll and places him in the tree, causing the pods to start sprouting with slime. Ernest attempts to tell Kenny's father, the sheriff, about his encounter, but he doesn't believe him, so he goes to Ms. Hackmore. After consulting the legend of Trantor, it is learned that the only thing that can stop him for good is "the heart of a child and a mother's care". Being the descendant of Phineas, it's up to Ernest to save the town. He attempts to mount a defense against Trantor, but the townspeople do not believe his story and refuse to provide assistance (except for Tom and Bobby Tulip, who take advantage of him by selling him phony troll weapons). Meanwhile, Kenny and Elizabeth return to the treehouse, looking for Joey. There, they discover him as a wooden doll and see the pods. At that same moment, Trantor returns and sees them. Hearing him coming, they run to Ms. Hackmore's, with him following. Just as he's about to get them, he sees a boy on a skateboard. Deciding to get them later, he abducts the boy and carries him to the treehouse, turning him into his second wooden doll. He is one step closer to releasing his troll army.
Ernest and Kenny form a troll-fighting squad and set up traps around the neighborhood. While at home, Elizabeth tries to make her mother believe what Ernest is saying is true, but she doesn't believe it. Hearing something under her bed, Elizabeth looks and only finds her stuffed bear. However, when she turns around, she sees Trantor sitting by her. He has claimed his third victim. Spotting Ernest at a store, Trantor decides to take a second chance at killing him. Jimmy, the cashier, sees Trantor and tries to alert Ernest, but he speaks in gibberish. When he pulls out a gun, Ernest throws the milk he was holding in Trantor's direction, causing him to once again flee.
Kenny soon meets up with one of his friends when he hears Elizabeth's voice coming from a pipe. Investigating it, he doesn't see anything, but when he turns around, he sees Trantor turn his friend into his fourth wooden doll, with plans to make Kenny number five. He chases him but vanishes when the milkman's truck drives between them. Kenny then tries to tell his father what he saw, but he won't listen. Ernest then shows up saying that he caught Trantor, only when he opens the truck, it is revealed that he caught the neighborhood bullies instead, who are also the mayor's sons. Enraged, the mayor fires him. Kenny tries to back up his story, but his father takes him away to the school Halloween dance. Ernest is about to throw in the towel but is reinspired by Rimshot, his Jack Russell Terrier, to keep up the fight. Trantor takes his latest two victims to the tree so their souls can feed his pods. He only needs one more to unleash his army. Ernest and Rimshot come to the tree and see the pods, deciding to tell Ms. Hackmore, only to have Trantor attack them on Ernest's pickup truck. After escaping him, Ernest looks over the legend of Trantor and sees that trolls can be destroyed with something called M-I-?-K. The letter "L" wasn't written in the page. The audience knows that it means milk ("a mother's care"), but Ernest thinks that the answer is Bulgarian miak.
Knowing that Trantor needs one more child, Ms. Hackmore deduces that he will head to where the children are: the Halloween dance at school, which he does. Upon arriving there, Ernest rushes in to warn everyone about Trantor. Ms. Hackmore is about to follow him when she sees a little girl fighting with her mother and then make up, making her realize that unconditional love ("the heart of a child") is the key to defeating Trantor. During the costume contest, Matt, one of the mayor's sons, picks a fight with Trantor by mistake, thinking it was Kenny. Trantor attacks him, resulting in turning him into his fifth and final wooden doll. Everyone becomes spooked by his attack and runs away in fear. The mayor tries to stop Trantor from attacking Matt but he punches his face quite forcefully, knocking him out cold. Having into his fifth and final wooden doll, Trantor cheers in a roar. Ernest attempts to destroy him with miak, but it doesn't work and he ends up getting thrown into the ice cream machine by Trantor's wind attack from his roar. He gets hit in the face by a popcorn machine (which tips over and falls on him). The ice cream machine spills its contests all over him. Rimshot tries to help and attack Trantor, but he turns him into a wooden dog. He is about to destroy Ernest, but when he sees him covered in ice cream, he runs away, leaving Ernest untouched. Everyone now believes what Ernest said about him. Kenny shows Ernest what Trantor had done to Rimshot. Ernest is then determined to take him down. Everybody agrees and help Ernest defeat him.
The townspeople, led by the mayor (who now believes)', decide to go to the treehouse and stop Trantor. At the same time, Kenny realizes that he can be destroyed by being exposed to milk, and rallies together a group of local children, including the mayor's other son. Trantor reaches the tree first and places his final wooden doll in it, allowing him to free his army. As he laughs madly over his success at last, an enraged Ernest arrives and rams him with his pickup, only for him to manage to escape. Ernest then sees that the pods are larger than before. They begin falling off the tree. Ernest attempts to keep them from hitting the ground, but fails and Trantor's army literally rises. Meanwhile, Kenny and his troop obtain milk and water pistols from a convenience store (the same one where Trantor tried to get Ernest, and much to Jimmy's anger due to them riding their bicycles in there) and head to the treehouse on their bicycles. The townspeople arrive and are instantly overtaken by the countless troll army. Trantor orders it to bring him Ernest's head. At that moment, Kenny arrives and spritzes two of them from attacking his father with milk, vaporizing and destroying them, until they are nothing but melted corpse.
Following his lead, the rest of the children begin attacking the trolls with milk. Trantor flees away. Just as Ernest is about to be decapitated, Kenny sprays Trantor's executioners. Mounting their attack from the treehouse, Ernest, Kenny, and the kids soon take down the entire troll army with milk. Everyone thinks that they have won, but Ms. Hackmore appears during the cheering saying that it's not over yet. At that moment, Trantor appears. During the battle, he had called upon the "Evil Ghostly Demons" to strengthen him, making him more repulsive and wicked than ever. Knocking Ernest out of the tree, Trantor corners Kenny, who immediately sprays him, but he has grown so strong that he is immune to milk, and turns Kenny into the sixth wooden doll, making him even stronger. He jumps out of the treehouse and lands right on top of Kenny. He faces off Ernest in their final battle, trapping everyone else behind a wall of fire. Ernest initially attempts to fight him with milk, but he hears Ms. Hackmore say that only unconditional love can stop him. He embraces Trantor and begins dancing, overwhelming him with love and affection, finishing with a kiss (he and everybody were disgusted) causing him to explode. With him destroyed, his magic spell is broken and all the wooden dolls revert to normal, including his original four victims from the 19th century which Ms. Hackmore had watched over since his imprisonment. As Ernest watches everyone being reunited with their loved ones, he feels that there is nothing for him in the treehouse anymore, until he sees that Rimshot has also returned to normal.
- 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
- Nick Victory as Mike
- Jonas Moscartolo as Trantor
- Ernie Fosselius as Trantor (voice)
- "'Eartha Kitt Livens Up 'Ernest'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
- "House Party 2` Tops At Box Office". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-11-12.