31 Days of Horror: Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

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For those who watched quite a bit of television in the nineties, Jim Varney was a staple on commercials. Jim Varney was a comedian famous for playing an annoying neighbor character named Ernest who would harass an off-screen neighbor, Vern. There was something about the Ernest character that spawn commercial deal after commercial deal and right into his own movies. The only commercial character that comes close to this kind of popularity is the Flo, the Progressive Insurance agent. Where Flo is a sassy (sometimes snarky) insurance agent, Ernest was the annoying but good hearted earnest neighbor.

Of all the Ernest movies, Ernest Scared Stupid is a complete nostalgic favorite. Honestly, I would credit this as one of the earliest movie monster movie that I could handle as a young child. Decades later,this still holds up as a great monster movie.

Ernest spends his days as a dumpster driver. He is the town idiot that is tolerated by the adults, beloved by the children. His imagination and split personality are a hit with the outcast children however. As they band together to form their own tree house of recycled parts, they unknowingly awaken a creature that has been asleep for centuries. Now a town legend will become a Halloween event no will ever forget.

Once again. I am steering clear of small towns. The chances of being entangled into a dreadful legend or prophecy is too great.

For a movie with a really stupid title, this was just so enjoyable to watch. Completely surprisingly fun as a child and as an adult. The child in me remembers the fun adventure and the scare of the trolls. The adult in me catches the adult themed jokes and is still pretty scared of the trolls. I was surprised to recognize Eartha Kitt has a part in this movie. Legends within a legend movie.

The trolls are just so gross! They are the example of what a troll would look like: gross and full of mucus. Setting aside the ick factor, the production value of the movie reflects how popular Jim Varney was. The trolls were so detailed and animated. Just like Gremlins, this is another piece of nostalgic cinematic art that has to be experienced.

Calling a movie staring Jim Varney as an art would be scoffed by most but it truly is a great movie. The story is full of silly and fun dialogue, the kids have a huge role in this film, the battles are fun (and makes me really want a super soaker), and there is a genuine tear jerker moment for me.For how much more can I adore a person when they will weep to their knees in joy for their pet? Ernest is amazing and I love him. Although, not as a neighbor. I would have high fences covered in poison ivy.

There is even a great morale thread to the story. A morale that encourages the audience to set aside fear and hate. Even going so far as to encourage an act that can be hard to stomach for most: being kind and loving another. Especially for this time of anti-bullying and such, this is a movie aligns very well with that sentiment.

The movie also does confirm my dislike for milk: it’s potent enough to destroy trolls so heck no am I drinking that..

This leans way more on the family friendly comedy/adventure movie than horror side. It is essentially an urban legend story with monsters that are easily defeated. The child abduction is pretty horrifying in how easily and quickly it occurs but it also makes me wonder, were there no no nosy neighbors or reclining senior citizens on porches? The town isn’t really that big. How was it that no one noticed?

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