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Ernest Scared Stupid (a.k.a. "Ernest Saves Halloween") is a 1991 American comedy film directed by John R. Cherry III and starring Jim Varney. It's the fourth (technically fifth) film to feature the character Ernest P. Worrell.
In 19th century Briarville, Missouri, Trantor the troll has been on a rampage, turning children into wooden dolls so that he can feast upon their energy. The townspeople, using a little girl as bait, lure the troll into a trap, tie him up in burlap and throw him into a pit. The village elder, Phineas Worrell, seals the troll beneath an oak tree so that it will never terrorize the children of Briarville again.
Fast-forward to the 1990s, where Phineas Worrell's descendant, Ernest, is a garbageman and friend to the neighborhood children, Kenny, Elizabeth and Joey. The kids are busy working on a haunted house, until it gets destroyed by a couple of bullies. Ernest steps in to help them build a treehouse instead. And of course, which tree does he decide would be the best choice?
- Adults Are Useless: Except for Old Lady Hackmore; Ernest at least tries to be useful, and he is in the end.
- Though telling him the exact steps required to free Trantor qualifies her for the Idiot Ball.
- Adult Child: Ernest. This trait is eventually what defeats Trantor.
- All Trolls Are Different: Trantor is an evil troll who goes after children, turning them into little wooden dolls which give him his power, which he uses to try to create more trolls. He also has the ability to mimic the voice of anyone he's turned into a doll. Younger trolls can be killed by milk (mother's care) and older ones be driven off, but for the most powerful trolls, the only thing that can defeat them is unconditional love (the heart of a child).
- Bedmate Reveal: After checking under the bed and being relieved that nothing's hiding under there, Elizabeth finds Trantor laying in bed next to her.
- Broken Aesop: Using unconditional love as a weapon...yeah...
- The Bully: The Murdocks.
- Care Bear Stare: Ernest is able to defeat Trantor using unconditional love.
- Cassandra Truth: Nobody believes Ernest or the kids about the troll except for Old Lady Hackmore.
- Chekhov's Gun: During the first attack in the treehouse, Ernest accidentally spills some milk during the struggle - causing Trantor to flee. Trantor's aversion to milk is hinted a couple more times before the reveal.
- The Chick: Elizabeth.
- Child Eater: Trantor
- Corpsing: The little girl at the beginning of the movie who is being chased by Trantor.
- Determinator: According to Ernest's fourth grade teacher.
"He never knew when to quit." (smack)
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Rimshot.
- Friend to All Children: Ernest.
- Halloween Special
- Hyperspace Wardrobe: Whenever Ernest does his impressions.
- Doubles with Changing Clothes Is a Free Action, as the changes are usually one after another in rapid succession.
- Idiot Ball: Ernest and Old Lady Hackmore fail to guess "Milk' from "M-I-something-K."
- Also how Trantor gets released in the first place. Ernest never was the brightest bulb in the shed.
- Kick the Dog: Trantor turning Rimshot into a wooden statue.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Old Lady Hackmore, to a degree.
- Mood Swinger: The girl arguing with her mother about the ridiculous Halloween costume that she herself picked out: tempers flare and harsh words are exchanged, almost immediately followed by the two exchanging apologies and hugging.
- This brief moment also counts as an Out-of-Genre Experience.
- Nails on a Blackboard: A young Ernest does this in a flashback before getting whacked in the head by his teacher.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ernest does exactly what Old Lady Hackmore says not to do and awakens Trantor. One could argue that Hackmore should be responsible for "breaking" it because she actually told Ernest how to awaken Trantor, and then expected him not to do it.
- Not Now, Kiddo: And given his child-like nature even Ernest gets this treatment from the other adults.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner
Ernest: How 'bout a bumper sandwich, booger lips?
- Sealed Evil in a Tree
- Stock Footage: The opening features clips from old black-and-white movies, including The Screaming Skull, The Giant Gila Monster, The Killer Shrews and the original Little Shop of Horrors.
- Taken for Granite: Trantor turns children and dogs, it would seem into wooden statues.
- Team Pet: Rimshot.
- Town with a Dark Secret
- The Walls Are Closing In: When Ernest gets stuck in the back of his own garbage truck.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Milk.
- And not miak.
- He didn't even get to use it yet.
- And not miak.
- When Trees Attack: The book which describes Trantor's goals and weaknesses is titled "Trolls and Other Tree Devils." This helps explain why Trantor's "children" grow from seed pods and why he transforms children into wood, but raises a big question mark over Phineas Worrell's decision to seal him under an oak tree (which he transforms from his prison into his base of operations).