Friday, October 23, 2015

Horrors of October - Ernest Scared Stupid

Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) accidentally releases a troll from his curse and must save the town of Briarville before the booger-filled monster can magically bring his race back to life. ERNEST SCARED STUPID wasn't actually the last Ernest film to be released theatrically (that honor goes to the little seen ERNEST RIDES AGAIN) but it was the last widely known movie of the series, thanks to a partnership with Disney's Touchstone Pictures. Though it does falter in many places and some things don't hold up with time, this goofy, gross, and frankly scary movie holds a place in my heart. The opening credits are always the high point of the film for me: Ernest mugs at the camera while a delightfully seasonal tune plays over clips from B-movies of the past, including THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS. Fun fact: the clip from that movie where the giant alien brain flies towards the camera frightened me as a kid. The main movie has the usual tropes of Ernest films, including him getting into trouble at work, appearances of the two bumbling not-alike twins, and the customary "eww!" mouth gag. The one Ernest routine that should have been excised from the first cut is the multiple personality gag, which is so eye-rolling to watch here even the movie kids think it's really lame. Though the comedy doesn't always work, the film makes up for it with some pretty terrifying stuff for a supposed kids' flick. The troll gets his power by sneaking up on children and turning them into wooden dolls, all of whom remain in a scared stiff pose. He even gets one with the good ole "I'm in the bedroom" trick, which is still an effective scene. Additionally, the villain actually acts like a villain and even takes out all of the kid protagonists. Couple this with Eartha Kitt's campy performance as the town shut-in, great creature effects from The Chiodo Brothers (KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE) and the lovable dog Rimshot, and you have yourself a good alternative to your HOCUS POCUS marathoning.


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