Hey, Vern! ‘Ernest Scared Stupid’ (1991) Turns 30 – Retro Review

Growing up, Friday’s always meant video store rentals with my family. Each week, my brothers and I had the option of renting a video game or movie. In some cases, we were lucky enough to get a movie AND a video game. Those were good times back then in the ’80s and ’90s.

One week when it was my turn to rent a movie, I saw a cover for a film that would forever change my life. The movie I’m talking about is Ernest Goes to Camp. This was my first encounter with Jim Varney, and I fell in love with the comedy antics of Ernest. It became my life’s mission to watch everything with him in it, even dress up like Ernest for Halloween. This was before the internet, and a lot of my friends didn’t really know about Ernest, so word of mouth was always a helpful thing. Luckily, he was gaining popularity and we started getting more adventures and comedy hijinks from him, from Saving Christmas to Going to Jail to his later stuff, like his TV series and direct to video release. Today, we’re going to talk about the one movie of Jim Varney that combines my love of horror and comedy, a great gateway of horror by the name of Ernest Scared Stupid.

The plot is extremely simple: Ernest accidentally unleashes an ugly troll that plots to transform children into wooden dolls in the town of Briarville, Missouri.

Jim Varney was a great actor who exceeded expectations in his roles. With Ernest Scared Stupid, he really gave a great performance for Touchtone Pictures which was under the Disney studio. It was the last film they did with a big budget, and frankly, I’m glad they took a chance with this movie and subject matter. This is a fantastic monster movie with great FX by the Chiodo Brothers, who have an impressive record with their work including Critters and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, just to name a few.

Ernest Scared Stupid is a kid’s movie but actually has some terrifying scenes and visuals. For me, however, it isn’t so much horror but the comedy. Jim Varney comforted me, showing that it was okay to be scared with humor along with the help of Eartha Kitt (Batman TV series). They had this comedy dynamic where they never missed a beat. Jim is funny and Eartha is this dramatic, quasi-funny character.

Some people will say they were scared. Seeing the trolls with their gross, detailed features along with goo and bones when they’re killed. Yet, this film is a great gateway horror movie. For kids who are a bit older but not old enough to watch horror movies in theaters, Ernest Scared Stupid can help pave the way to where they can become interested in what else the horror genre can offer, what other FX are out there, and maybe even other horror comedies.

For me, Ernest Scared Stupid is like a roller coaster ride. You get scared, but you can’t help but laugh. Jim Varney had a career in acting, but the one role we’ll always remember is Ernest P. Worrell. What better way to end it all than with a horror movie. Sadly, the movie is out there but becoming more and more scarce. I urge you to find it and add it to your Halloween rotation

About Jai Alexis

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