Ernest Scared Stupid
|Ernest Scared Stupid|
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin.
|Directed by||John Cherry|
|Produced by||Stacy Williams
Coke Sams (Co-producer)
|Screenplay by||Charlie Gale
|Story by||John Cherry
|Music by||Bruce Arntson
|Edited by||Craig Bassett|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|October 11, 1991 (Theatrical)|
|Box office||$14.1 million|
Ernest Scared Stupid is a 1991 American horror comedy fantasy 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, 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 transforms children into wooden dolls to feast upon their energy out on Briarville, Missouri in the late 19th Century. He is captured by a townsfolk and sealed under a giant oak tree. One of the village elders named Phineas Worrell, 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 – and that every generation of Worrells would get "dumber and dumber and dumber", culminating in Ernest P. Worrell.
Two hundred years later, Ernest, a sanitation worker, helps a few of his middle school friends, Kenny Binder, Elizabeth and Joey, construct a tree house in the same tree that unknowingly contains the dormant creature, after the mayor's sons demolished their own cardboard haunted house. When Old Lady Hackmore (Eartha Kitt) discovers this she leaves in shock and upset. When Ernest follows her, he learns the story of Trantor and reports it to the kids. Inadvertently he releases the troll, who terrifies Ernest, then later confronts Joey who falls into a pit during a rain storm. Lulling him into a false sense of security using Ernest's voice, he takes Joey and turns him into a wooden doll. Ernest finds Sheriff Binder, who is Kenny's dad, and explains the situation to him, but they don't believe him. After none of the townsfolk will aid Ernest, not believing his story, he mounts a one-man (and one-dog) defense operation in preparation for Trantor's appearance. Meanwhile, Trantor captures a boy on a skateboard for his second victim.
Tom and Bobby Tulip, hoping to take advantage of Ernest, sell him a variety of fake troll traps, but one backfires on the mayor's sons and he is fired from his job. He returns to Hackmore for help, accompanied by Kenny and Elizabeth; they learn that "the heart of a child, and a mother's care" are the only defenses against the troll. Later that night, Elizabeth hears something under her bed, but finds that it was just her teddy bear; when she turns around, she is attacked by Trantor and made his third victim. While Kenny and a friend named Gregg (who is dressed as a Native American) are walking, Trantor uses Elizabeth's voice to lure Kenny away, then takes Gregg as a fourth victim. Despite parents being upset at their missing children, Mayor Murdock and Sheriff Cliff Binder still proceed with a Halloween party at the school. Trantor appears there and takes the mayor's oldest son as his fifth and final wooden doll. In the ensuing fight between Trantor and Ernest, Trantor turns Ernest's dog Rimshot into a wooden doll before being driven off by frozen yogurt covering Ernest's hands. Kenny realizes that "Mother's care" refers to milk, and rallys a troll-fighting team to destroy them.
Back at the treehouse, Trantor successfully summons dozens of trolls while Ernest tries but fails to stop them. Kenny and his friends arrive and begin destroying the trolls with milk. Kenny unsuccessfully tries to destroy Trantor, who turns Kenny into a doll as well. With the rest of the townsfolk now backing him up and telling him to douse Trantor in milk, Ernest realizes that the troll 'children' were susceptible to the milk, while Trantor himself would be weak against unconditional love: "the heart of a child". He takes Trantor and dances with him while the mob watches, filling him with as much love as possible and finishing it off with a kiss to his snot-ridden nose, which causes Trantor to explode.
With Trantor's destruction, Ernest is proclaimed a hero. All of the wooden dolls of the children (and Rimshot), including four friends from Hackmore's childhood, are restored, and life returns 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 Binder
- Shay Astar as Elizabeth
- Alec Klapper as Joey
- John Cadenhead as Tom Tulip (Bobby's brother)
- Bill Byrge as Bobby Tulip (Tom's brother)
- Richard Woolf as Matt Murdock
- Nick Victory as Mike Murdock
- Jonas Moscartolo as Trantor
- Ernie Fosselius as Trantor (voice)
- Daniel Butler as Sheriff Cliff Binder (Kenny's dad)
- Esther Huston as Amanda Binder (Kenny's mom)
- Larry Black as Mayor Murdock (Mike and Matt's dad)
- Denice Hicks as Elizabeth's mother
- Jackie Welch as Teacher
The movie received mixed to generally negative reception in theaters. Many people thought that the film was too scary for children, the thought of a troll stealing the souls of children, and the manner in which the trolls were killed was deemed too inappropriate for a family film.  The movie debuted at No. 4 at the box office.
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.
- "'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.
- Ernest Scared Stupid at the Internet Movie Database
- Ernest Scared Stupid at Box Office Mojo
- Ernest Scared Stupid at Rotten Tomatoes