A Halloween Classic: 'Ernest Scared Stupid'

Not all holiday-themed movies can hold up and stand the test of time. Now there's a decent sized list of movies that do, whether it be a Thanksgiving film like "Planes, Trains & Automobiles", a Christmas movie like "Christmas Vacation"; or, in this case, a lovable Halloween movie like "Ernest Scared Stupid".

I’m sure "Ernest Scared Stupid" is not the first film that pops into your head when you think about Halloween movies, and, in fact, it's often forgotten. But make no mistake; it's a film that truly holds up due mostly to Jim Varney’s wacky alter-ego as Ernest P. Worrell. Some might argue that "Ernest Goes to Camp" is the alpha-omega Ernest movie and I can’t disagree, but there’s just something special about 1991's "Ernest Scared Stupid", one of the later films in the franchise.

The plot is simple: after a misunderstanding, Ernest P. Worrell unleashes an evil troll on Halloween.

Naturally, in the beginning of the film, we are re-introduced to our hero, Ernest, who is currently holding the prestigious job title of trash man for the town of Briarville. And shortly after we meet our two other protagonists: Kenny (Austin Nagler) and Elizabeth (Shay Astar).

The movie truly begins once the trio, along with their other friend Joey, begin work on the ultimate tree house fort, or the "the high ground" as Ernest puts it. The reason behind the fort is for protection against the town bullies, who also happen to be the Mayor's sons.

Things get interesting when Elizabeth shares a local urban legend in class about an evil troll who, years ago, was banished by a Worrell. And after burying the troll, a tree was planted above to encapsulate the being for all of time. Well, fast forward, and this turns out to be the same tree our heroes built their tree house.

The tree house was illegally built on Old Lady Hackmore's (Eartha Kitt) property, and once she finds out, she immediately tells Ernest the story of the troll and how only a Worrell can resurrect the beast. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, Ernest mistakenly releases the troll, who, in turn, wreaks havoc among the town, catching kids and turning them into little wooden dolls in an attempt to repopulate the troll race.

And it's up to Ernest and company to save the town after his warnings go unheeded by the adults of Briarville.

Even though the film is from 1991, I’ll stop there to avoid any possible spoilers. Like "Ernest Goes to Camp", "Scared Stupid" is a wonderful little film that has a message as well as being a 91-minute laugh fest.

So my recommendation for this haunting season: "Ernest Scared Stupid"; it’s harmless fun for all ages.

Article originally published by Nick Meece on the Indianapolis Movie Examiner.
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