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  Ernest Scared Stupid Nervous Titters
Year: 1991
Director: John R. Cherry III
Stars: Jim Varney, Eartha Kitt, Austin Nagler, Shay Astar, Jonas Moscartolo, John Cadenhead, Bill Byrge, Richard Woolf, Nick Victory, Alec Klapper, Steven Moriyon, Daniel Butler, Esther Huston, Larry Black, Denice Hicks
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Legend tells in this small town of its founding fathers who battled a supernatural entity, a troll which terrorised the area until they discovered a way to seal him underneath a large tree which grew in the forest. The troll swore revenge, and cursed his main captor by telling him that his descendants would grow increasingly stupid with each generation. So it was that in present times, Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) was the local garbage collector, unaware of his ancestry and more likely to get caught in the back of his own truck...

The character of Ernest was one comedian Jim Varney had honed to perfection over a series of years of television commercials before a film starring him was even thought of, and when he did arrive in the movies he was very popular as his writers placed him in situations designed for maximum daftness. So it was that by the time the nineties came around, that old favourite for long running comedy characters was proposed, and Ernest appeared in his own horror spoof, complete with monsters designed by the Chiodo brothers, best known for their cult favourite Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Therefore you knew the creatures would be expertly rendered if nothing else, but pitting Ernest against an otherworldly foe proved to be one of his most enduring premises, probably thanks to it being ideal fare for Halloween. Indeed, there are many adults now who have memories of being very scared by this effort, hard to believe as it may sound, as there was nothing but a few kidding items of shock to be wound up by. Nevertheless, mention the scene where Elizabeth (Shay Astar) becomes convinced there is something under her bed and more than a few people will shiver visibly at the thought of it, not least because of the set-up's punchline.

The troll, you see, is predictably unleashed by Ernest when he builds his little friends a treehouse in that self same tree the creature is trapped under, and after delivering the incantation to set it free it begins to turn the children of the town into little wooden dolls. Our hero has quite some trouble persuadng the townsfolk that there genuinely is a troll on the loose, although the kids believe him (no wonder, it's their lives at stake), but he does have the backing of two hardware store owning brothers (who we are introduced to shooting a commercial in a nod to Varney's showbiz roots) who supply him with everything he should need, along with Eartha Kitt's witch-like wise woman who knows all about troll behaviour.

It's the sort of thing you'd see in a spoof vampire movie, except we're dealing with something different here. Varney's broad comedy can be an acquired taste, as he most resembles Jerry Lewis in his sense of humour, but he is at somewhere hear his best in this, being engaging and goofy in the best manner. Eccentricities include dressing up as various other personas to deliver one-liners, often about five or six in quick succession, but other aspects are more traditional, such as Ernest's doggy sidekick Rimshot, who ends up driving his truck at one point while his master combats the bad guy. A few of the gags may have trouble travelling, as Varney's references are very America-centred, but for most of the time he proved amusing and full of vitality, just the thing to prevent this getting bogged down in the frightening bits. Plus the use of unconditional love as a weapon is surprisingly sweet. Music by Bruce Arntson and Kirby Shelstad.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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