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 Fear: No one takes Ernest's claims of a troll seriously, but parents are in a positive panic when their kids suddenly start disappearing without a trace. It gets worse once they realize Ernest was right.
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).
Asshole Victim: Non-fatal example (it is a kid's movie, after all): One of the Murdock brothers gets turned into the last doll Trantor needs to revive his fellow trolls.
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...
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.
Hoistby His Own Petard: Trantor cursed the Worrell family to become dumber with each generation, possibly trying to create one dumb enough to free him. By the present, Ernest is basically a Man Child. And it's this child-like innocence that allows him to kill Trantor once and for all.
Home Made Inventions: Ernest has an attachment on his garbage truck which dumps wet sponges held by robot hands repeatedly. We don't get to see what it actually does, though. He likely invented the food-launching cannons in the tree-house, and he also built a troll trap using a dumpster.
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.
Old Lady Hackmore was firmly clutching it when she told Ernest how to release Trantor and expected him not to do it.
I Have a Family: When Ernest imitates a doll voice and wrestles with the dilemma of using a doll to stop the gears of a garbage masher.
Ernest: (as the doll) No, no, don't stick my head in those gears!
Ernest: (as himself) But it's either me or you.
Ernest: (as the doll) But I have a family in a doll house.
Ernest: (as himself - Beat) I'll send them a nice photo.
Ernest: (as the doll) You can't get away with this, Ernest, I know where you live!
I Have the High Ground: Repeated constantly, first as Ernest's strategy to help Kenny beat his bullies, then as a tactic to beat the incoming troll army.
It's Personal: Even though he has his own goal of reviving the other trolls by sacrificing five kids, Trantor also wants to kill Ernest and avenge himself against the Worrell family for imprisoning him. Then he turns Rimshot into a wooden doll and Ernest in turn gets pissed.
Magical Seventh Son: Old Lady Hackmore says "you're the seventh son of the seventh son" when listing all the auspices that make Ernest The Chosen One for fulfilling his ancestor's legacy and defeating Trantor the Troll once and for all. (It's not clear if she's being metaphorical or not, though, especially since she refers to him as the direct descendant of Phineas Worrell.)
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.
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: Kenny gets this a lot from his father. And given his child-like nature even Ernest gets this treatment from the other adults.
Shout-Out: A passing milk truck, a carton of chocolate milk Ernest drinks at the convenience store, and the milk cartons used by the kids in the climax are all branded "Purity," Which was the local dairy farm brand Ernest used to advertise in his commercial days.
Super-Persistent Predator: Trantor going after Kenny and Elizabeth. He gives up his first pursuit to grab a passer-by, but resumes pursuing the two later despite all sorts of other kids in the neighbor and him being on a strict deadline. He really goes out of his way pursuing Kenny (and only gives up after being scared off by a milk truck). Perhaps he is just that sadistic, as evidenced by him turning Kenny to wood after achieving his goals.
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).