Ernest Scared Stupid is a 1991 American fantasy horror comedy film directed by John R. Cherry III 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 ones were independently produced, and following the financial failure of the theatrical release Ernest Rides Again, they 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 townspeople of Briarville and sealed under a giant oak tree in the 19th Century. One of the village elders, a direct ancestor of Ernest named Phineas Worrell, establishes the seal under the condition that Trantor can only be released on the night before Halloween and by the hands of a Worrell.
One hundred years later, Elizabeth narrates the result about Briarville's legend of Trantor and how descendants of Phineas Worrell (especially Ernest) will not be very smart whatsoever for an annual classroom report at school. Ernest, who works as a garbage collector, helps her, Kenny Binder, and Joey build a tree house on the exact branches that grow above Trantor. Old Lady Hackmore, a local superstitious hermit, finds them building it after Mike and Matt Murdock bullied Kenny by ruining his cardboard haunted house. Ernest tries to talk to her and is heard the story of Trantor. Skeptical, he tells the story to the kids. Ernest inadvertently releases him. He frightens Ernest and then goes after the children of Briarville. Joey is going home from the tree house and falls into a muddy hole. While trying to get out, he reaches his hand and Trantor grabs it. He first disguises his voice as Ernest's, and 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. Kenny and Elizabeth come trying to find Ernest. They are followed by Trantor. As he tries to get them, he finds a boy on a skateboard. He grabs him and carries him over his shoulder to the tree house. 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 his third victim, meaning he only needs two more to unleash his army. While Kenny and his friend, Gregg, (who is dressed as a Native American) are walking, Trantor uses Elizabeth's voice to lure Kenny away, and then takes Gregg as his fourth victim.
Trantor later causes a disturbance at the school Halloween bash which culminates in a fight with Ernest. Mysteriously, he flees from the school after Ernest is covered in frozen yogurt. The townspeople, having seen Trantor with their own eyes, go to the tree house and attempt to defeat him. At the same time, several local children led by Kenny determine that he can be destroyed by being exposed to milk. They steal some from a convenience store and head to the tree house on their bikes.
Trantor reaches the tree house first, and having acquired the necessary number of dolls, 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 them with milk. Meanwhile, Trantor receives greater powers and becomes impervious to milk. The trolls is soon defeated, and everyone believes that they have won. However, Trantor appears and quickly transforms Kenny into his fifth victim.
Ernest initially believes that he can defeat Trantor with milk, but soon realizes that it 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 him and begins dancing, overwhelming him with love and affection. He is destroyed, Old Lady Hackmore reunites with her family (Trantor's original four victims) including her sister and the dolls transform back into children (as does Ernest's dog, Rimshot).
- Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell, Phineas Worrell, Bunny Worrell, Auntie Nelda, and others
- Eartha Kitt as Francis "Old Lady" Hackmore
- Austin Nagler as Kenny Binder
- Shay Astar as Elizabeth
- John Cadenhead as Tom Tulip
- Bill Byrge as Bobby Tulip
- Richard Woolf as Matt Murdock
- Nick Victory as Mike Murdock
- Alec Klapper as Joey
- Steven Moriyon as Gregg
- Jonas Moscartolo as Trantor
- Ernie Fosselius as the voice of Trantor
- Daniel Butler as Cliff Binder
- Esther Huston as Amanda Binder
- Larry Black as Mayor Murdock
- Denice Hicks as Elizabeth's mother
The film had its first DVD release from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on September 3, 2002. Mill Creek Entertainment released it on DVD on January 18, 2011 as part of the Ernest Triple Feature along with Ernest Goes to Camp and Ernest Goes to Jail. Four months later, Mill Creek Entertainment re-released it as an individual one.
- "'Eartha Kitt Livens Up 'Ernest'", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 6 October 2010.
- "House Party 2` Tops At Box Office", Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 12 November 2010.
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