Ernest Scared Stupid is a 1991 American horror comedy dark 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, including 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 (1958), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Killer Shrews (1959), Battle Beyond the Sun (1959), and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).
Trantor is 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 townsfolk and sealed under a giant oak tree. One of the village elders, 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 angrily leaves. When Ernest follows her, he learns the story of Trantor and reports it to the kids. Inadvertently, Ernest releases the troll. Lulling him into a false sense of security using Ernest's voice, Trantor takes Joey and turns him into a wooden doll. Ernest finds Sheriff Binder, who is Kenny's dad, and explains the situation but they don't believe him. After none of the townsfolk will aid Ernest, 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 Ernest is fired from his job. Ernest, Kenny and Elizabeth return to Hackmore, where they learn that "the heart of a child, and a mother's care" are the only defenses against the troll. Later that night, Elizabeth becomes Trantor's third victim when she goes to the woods to wait for Kenny but she's chased by Trantor and her foot gets stuck between two Boulders she screams for help and desperately tries to get her foot unstuck. Trantor reaches his hand out to grab Elizabeth. She manages to get her foot unstuck and she runs to the tree house and starts climbing up the tree house ladder but Trantor grabs her ankle and turns her into a wooden doll. Kenny and a friend named Gregg 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 rallies 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 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 film had its first DVD release from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on September 3, 2002. Mill Creek Entertainment re-released it on DVD on January 18, 2011, as part of the two-disc set 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.