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Ernest Scared Stupid

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Directed by: John Cherry
Release date: October 11, 1991
Running time: 91 minutes
Rating: PG

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. The film has Ernest 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.


In the 19th-century Briarville, Missouri, a troll named Trantor, who is responsible for kidnapping children and turning them into wooden dolls, is captured by the townsfolk, led by Phineas Worrell, who binds the troll under the roots of a great oak tree. But, before they can complete the ritual, Trantor casts a curse on the townsfolk that he will return and, once he has captured five children, his children will be born from that very tree and overrun humanity. He also curses Phineas that each generation of Worrells would be born less and less intelligent and, therefore, a future Worrell will be stupid enough to free him. The film then fast forwards to the twentieth century, nearly one hundred years later, where the legend of Trantor is being told by a girl named Elizabeth, but the story is dismissed as a folklore and fiction.

Meanwhile, Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) works as a sanitation engineer for the town and is close friends with Elizabeth and her two friends Joey and Kenny, the son of the town sheriff. After their haunted clubhouse is ruined by the Mayor's two bullying sons, Ernest promises to find them a better place to build one, shortly before he is ordered to clear the land of Old Lady Hackmore (Eartha Kitt). However, he is frightened off by her, and when running through her land, he comes across a gigantic tree, which he and the kids decide to turn into a treehouse. Unbeknownst to them, that it is the same tree under which Trantor is buried, and when Ernest accidentally incites the incantation to summon Trantor, he releases the troll.

Unable to get help from Sheriff Binder, Ernest goes to Old Lady Hackmore for help while Joey falls victim to Trantor. The next day, Joey's disappearance concerns Kenny and Elizabeth while Tom and Bobby Tulip, claiming to be the only two to believe Ernest's warnings of a troll, take advantage of him by selling him fake troll-trapping devices, many of which backfire. One of them traps the Mayor's sons in a dumpster, which results in his immediate firing. Meanwhile, Trantor captures a skateboarder, and later that night Elizabeth, who finds Trantor had invaded her bedroom. While trick or treating, Kenny is lured away from a friend by hearing Elizabeth's voice and his friend is taken as the fourth victim. The parents are looking for the disappearance of their children. The Sheriff Binder believes the kids are at the school due to the fact that he's not taking it seriously.

Ernest then learns through a book that Old Lady Hackmore has that two things can destroy Trantor; "The heart of a child" and "A mother's care". An inscription of MI_K is Ernest's only clue, which he believes to be "Miak". He manages to actually obtain a bottle of "miak", but later discovers that the item he is looking for is milk, and that "A mother's care" is unconditional love.

They arrive too late for Trantor to attack and capture the Mayor's youngest son as his final wooden doll, and out of spite, transforms Rimshot as well. Kenny realizes Trantor's weakness, and gathers the mayor's other son and a group of the neighborhood kids to fight Trantor with milk. They are too late to stop Trantor's pods from hitting the ground and giving birth to his children, who attack the townsfolk.

Kenny and the others launch an offensive and manage to destroy all of the trolls except for Trantor, who becomes too powerful to be affected by milk. He turns Kenny into a wooden doll and faces Ernest, who realizes that the only weapon that will affect Trantor is the heart of a child. He showers Trantor in love and affection, dancing with him and giving him a kiss on the nose. This overload of affection causes Trantor's head to explode and disintegrate, and the people of the town celebrate and congratulate Ernest. To their joy, Trantor's spell is broken on the children he had taken, the five from that night as well as four children from the nineteenth century, including Hackmore's sister who reunites with her now-older sister. Ernest bouts in depression, wondering if he'd get anything out of saving the town and everyone's lives when Rimshot comes running and leaping into his arms, making it a happy night for everyone.


  • 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 the Evil Troll
  • Ernie Fosselius as Trantor the Evil Troll (voice)

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