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Ernest Scared Stupid(1991)
After a misunderstanding, Ernest P. Worrell unleashes an evil troll on Halloween.
For more about Ernest Scared Stupid and the Ernest Scared Stupid Blu-ray release, see Ernest Scared Stupid Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 30, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jim Varney, Eartha Kitt, Austin Nagler, Shay Astar, Jonas Moscartolo, Bill Byrge
Director: John R. Cherry III
» See full cast & crew
Ernest Scared Stupid Blu-ray Review
...And it's on sale for a scary low price!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 30, 2011
There's nothing under the bed...
Horror can be such a random, peculiar genre. It's not all slashers and disfigured maniacs and splatter-fests in hardcore R-rated films; it's trolls and monsters under the bed and things that go bump in the night. It's in fairy tales and nursery rhymes and bedtime stories. It's in haunted houses and Halloween decorations and tales of the ubiquitous "boogeyman." There's just something in human nature about wanting, needing to be scared on some level -- particularly in the safety of the theater or from the comfort of the couch curled up to a good R.L. Stine book -- that tingles the senses and engages the brain in a way other genres can't. And it all starts with the young ones. Movie studios have more or less tastefully exploited the Horror genre geared to younger audiences for a long time -- think Monster House -- and book publishers, well, kids have been scared for years with anything from a Lois Duncan tale to new market entries like Killer Pizza, which features children monster slayers. Ernest Scared Stupid is one of these "scary" movies geared directly at impressionable young minds. But are its monsters too scary, and will possible nightmares be worth the short-lived thrill of seeing a "scary" movie, albeit one presented in an obviously comedic tone?
A long time ago in sleepy Missouri town, a troll was buried under an oak tree, never to run rampant and terrorize the townsfolk again...unless an ancestor of village elder Phineas Worrell were to disturb the tree. Flash forward to today. Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) is on the brink of losing his job. He operates a garbage truck, but his on-the-clock antics are wearing thin on his employer. Ernest is tasked with cleaning up the old Hackmore place, a deep-rooted, long-stnading junkyard of sorts and home to old lady Hackmore (Eartha Kitt) herself. It turns out Ernest and Ms. Hackmore share a common past: both are descendants of the townsfolk who battled the troll. Ms. Hackmore takes her town lore seriously and runs Ernest away when she learns who he is. Unfortunately, bumbling Ernest and a few of his grammar school-aged friends return to Hackmore's estate with the intention of building a treehouse. It just so happens that Ernest chooses to work with the one tree he shouldn't mess with: the one sitting atop the troll's tomb. Now, the beast is released and terrorizing the town. It needs to collect five children and use their life energy to give birth to its own unstoppable army, and there's only one man who can stop it: the bumbling Ernest, with a little help from his friends.
Ernest Scared Stupid is a playful, semi-entertaining (even for the adults) little romp into the zany world of Ernest P. Worrell, who is this time tasked with once again saving the day in spite of his numerous misadventures along the way, most of which he brings upon himself. Ernest is the sort of guy who's heart is always in the right place, but his mind never can quite catch up to his good intentions. That disconnect is where the comedy comes from; it's a bumbling happy-go-lucky sort of perky, lovable over-the-top family-friendly brand of humor that just never gets old through any of the Ernest movies. None of them are quite as all-around strong as Ernest Goes to Camp, but the character proves once again in Ernest Scared Stupid why there's such an attraction and why he proves so memorable even if he's little more than a one-trick pony who even wears the same clothes through every movie. It's not the supporting factors that make the Ernest movies, it's the character. Jim Varney proves in every scene of every movie that he was just born to the play the part. It's a shame the character never really took off to the greater heights he deserved, but at the same time there's something appealing about the underdog sort of shunned, maybe even slightly misunderstood comedy hero that makes every Ernest movie all the more special.
As for the specifics surrounding Ernest Scared Stupid, it's a fair entry into the series but little more. Despite Varney's best efforts to the contrary -- keeping things lively with all sorts of verbal and physical humor -- the picture wears thin fairly quickly thanks to a largely repetitive plot and a collection of under-realized and dull supporting characters. The picture enjoys something of a slight Ernest Goes to Camp vibe as Ernest once again cares for a collection of youngsters and strives to teach them useful skills in the wild -- here building a treehouse -- but the picture ultimately suffers through a sluggish middle section and the expectedly tidy resolution. It's a family film, after all -- there's no guessing how it will work out in the end -- but the picture is clearly banking on one-shot gags rather than plot to see it through until the end. On the plus side, the picture works in a couple of rock-solid basic values into the plot, namely an anti-bullying theme that merges into a nod towards the positives of teamwork. The youngest viewers might be a little taken back by the sheer nastiness of the film's villainous troll; it's ugly and mega-slimy, but slightly older viewers -- young boys in particular -- will likely enjoy the fantasy elements of imaging themselves doing battle alongside their friends against an evil monster.
Ernest Scared Stupid Blu-ray, Video Quality
Ernest Scared Stupid's 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer is surprisingly strong and stable. For a film as relatively low-budget as this and a disc selling for around the price of a good cup of coffee shop coffee, viewers will be surprised to witness steady details and colors from beginning to end. Of course, this isn't absolutely top-flight high definition material, but there's very little room for complaint given all of the surrounding factors. Colors are perhaps a touch warm and a hair faded, but the palette is nevertheless nicely varied and inviting. Fine detail is quite good; facial textures and the seams and fabrics of Ernest's trademark gray t-shirt and denim vest aren't at all lacking, while the slimy definition of the troll's body is enough to add a few more scares into the equation. Black levels are relatively strong throughout. The image isn't plagued by too many other issues. A few pops and speckles are evident, but banding and blocking are kept to a minimum. A light layer of visible grain rounds a more-than-adequate transfer into form.
Ernest Scared Stupid Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Ernest Scared Stupid limps onto Blu-ray with a measly Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Despite the absence of more channels and a lossless option, Mill Creek's audio presentation is up to snuff, at least as up as an antiquated track can be. Music enjoys suitable clarity and spacing; the opening title sequence exhibits no problems in spreading out to the far edges of the soundstage while maintaining a crisp and accurate feel. The track can be a bit unwieldy and uninteresting; various sound effects are presented with limited power, little range, and unconvincing results, such as the heavy crunching of a garbage compactor early in the movie. However, sound does make the transition from speaker to speaker easily enough; a scene featuring Ernest running back and forth across the screen while shouting through a bullhorn is surprisingly effective and natural. Likewise, big storm sound effects as heard near the end of the film deliver suitable energy and a fair sense of space. Most important, dialogue is centered and always clear and accurate. It's not going to win any awards, but Mill Creek's measly 2.0 lossy soundtrack is no slouch in its ability to accomplish all its tasks.
Ernest Scared Stupid Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ernest Scared Stupid contains no supplements.
Ernest Scared Stupid Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ernest Scared Stupid might be a bit too scary for the youngest audiences, but it's sure to be a hit with elementary-aged boys. The picture is basic Ernest -- lots of verbal and physical humor from a master of both -- and once again makes use of children as integral pieces to the plot. The picture is a bit sluggish, repetitive, and not at all mysterious, but it's still a charming little adventure that makes it worth a watch, particularly for fans of the rest of the Ernest series. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of Ernest Scared Stupid yields stable video, decent audio, but no supplements. Normally, neither the movie nor the quality of the release would merit a recommendation, but given that Mill Creek is almost giving these things away, it makes for a respectable purchase. Recommended.
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