An ancient evil is awakened at Halloween and our heroes must stop it before the Halloween is over. Sound familiar? Well if you're most people, this probably sounds like the plot of Hocus Pocus, the movie that most people nowadays point to as the gold standard of nostalgic Halloween entertainment. However, that premise also describes the plot of Ernest Scared Stupid which...I guess you probably already guessed given the title of this section. Though the outcomes of the two movies are very different, the basic plot of the movies is the same. Just swap out the witches in Hocus Pocus for trolls and you have Ernest Scared Stupid.
Okay granted, I'm sure a lot of movies have this same basic structure, but the two films really do share a LOT in common. Just look, for example, at the opening sequences of each film. Both films begin in puritan times with a little girl being attacked by the film's antagonists. Both films then cut to the antagonists threatening the townsfolk with a curse as they're being sentenced for their crimes. After this, both films then cut to the future where we find out that what we had just seen was actually a story being told in a classroom. The similarities are such that you might think that ESS stole from Hocus Pocus...or you would if ESS hadn't come out TWO YEARS EARLIER!
The film's opening credits perfectly evokes all the fun and spooky feelings you had as a kid that made Halloween so much fun. Just try watching those opening credits and not feeling the spirit of the season.
For a movie about a troll that's defeated by super soakers full of milk, the movie is surprisingly terrifying. Though it looks a little corny as an adult, the troll's face is still the stuff of nightmares. Ditto the scene posted above, which fucked me up so bad as a kid I still think about it every time I get into bed.
Okay, granted, it's not Mark Twain, but Ernest Scared Stupid has a lot of genuinely funny bits...They're dumb as fuck, yes, but they're funny nonetheless. I defy you to watch this movie once then try not to laugh at the word "Miak." It simply can't be done.
The jokes in this movie are SOOOOOOOO dumb that they eventually swing back around to being brilliant, and a lot of that has to do with Ernest himself. Jim Varney is so committed to his role that he makes a lot of things work that shouldn't have worked. I'm not saying he's the greatest comedic actor of our time, but I'm also not NOT saying that.
Ernest Scared Stupid harkens back to a much simpler time. A lot of the movie revolves around a weird garbage man who takes his children's friends to the woods to build a secret fort...Seriously. If it was made today, the trolls wouldn't be the villain in that scenario. In the end though, that's what makes Ernest Scared Stupid such a perfect Halloween movie, because isn't that what Halloween all about? Being scared by the fun things and not the actually scary things?