[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 11 [Happy 25th Birthday!] – Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)


Director: John R. Cherry III

Cast: Jim Varney, Eartha Kitt, Austin Nagler

Screenplay: Coke Sams, Charles Gale

91 mins. Rated PG.


Today was an interesting piece of nostalgia. I haven’t seen Ernest Scared Stupid since I watched my recorded-from-ABC VHS tape that I owned as a kid. But, in honor of its 25th anniversary, I had to hunt down a copy. Not too tough, it’s in any 5-buck bin this time of year.

The town of Briarville has a terrible secret. A long time ago, they banished a demonic troll named Trantor to slumber beneath a giant oak tree, only to be awoken by a descendent of the townspeople. Now, 200 years later, a descendent, Ernest (Jim Varney, Toy Story, The Beverly Hillbillies) has let the creature out, and Trantor is turning the children of Briarville into wooden dolls in order to use their energy to awaken his children. Now, it’s up to Ernest, his young friend Kenny (Austin Nagler), and the strange Old Lady Hackmore (Eartha Kitt, The Emperor’s New Groove, Holes) to discover how to defeat the troll and save the children before it’s too late.


Wow, this was such a trip. No matter my thoughts on the movie, this experience was worth it. So what did I think? Personally, I thought the film was pretty fun upon revisiting. Sure it’s a little scary for children, and a little too childish for adults, but that’s what makes a good family film for Halloween.

Trantor was created by the Chiodo brothers, who also famously created Killer Klowns from Outer Space (you can easily see some of their reused props in the trolls). The creature and its interactions with Ernest became so popular that many believe it birthed the Troll Face meme used so often now.

Jim Varney had perfected his role as Ernest, a bumbling but lovable idiot with a special place for imaginative characters. He is like the idiot version of Doc Brown to Kenny’s Marty McFly.

New addition Old Lady Hackmore furthers the caliber of the film thanks to Eartha Kitt, who has fun in her wackiness and the interactions with Ernest, but it is the rare moments of heart that she displays that elevate the film above other Ernest outings.

From a technical look, Ernest Scared Stupid can’t really hold a candle to better films. The cinematography isn’t visually gripping. The best edited sequence is probably the titles. The visual effects have aged but are saved by the creature effects. The sets are cheap and the costumes cheaper.

But the movie is still fun to watch, so that’s a plus.


Ernest Scared Stupid holds up well for those of us that enjoyed it as children, and it may still bring in new fans for the next generation. As for those of you that didn’t see it as a kid, this may not win you over (don’t worry, I’m the same way with The Goonies). Check it out if you get the chance.



-Kyle A. Goethe


Boyhood (2014)


Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke

Screenplay: Richard Linklater

165 mins. Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Patricia Arquette)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Ethan Hawke)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Directing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Writing, Original Screenplay
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Film Editing


In 2002, director Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Bernie) began shooting a film, one that would keep him busy for the next twelve years. That film was Boyhood, a tale surrounding the adolescence of Mason (Ellar Coltrane, Fast Food Nation, Lone Star State of Mind), his mother (Patricia Arquette, TV’s Medium, Holes), his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), and his absent father (Ethan Hawke, Gattaca, Predestination). It covers the hurdles that young people encounter in their lives and the many challenged in adjusting to the world. It may appear simple, but this isn’t a simple film by any means. Its assembly, too, was a difficult one, as Linklater gathered his cast and crew together every year for twelve years to film sections of the movie as the actors aged alongside it.


What a film! Boyhood constantly flips back and forth in my mind for the best film of 2014 (the other possibility being Birdman). I love how the film analyzes those major steps on the way to adulthood. Mason’s journey, aided by powerhouse performances by Arquette and Hawke, is a heartfelt one, one that many others have been on and can completely connect to. Coltrane’s performance improves as the film moves on, but it isn’t anything to mess up the film.

Linklater’s perfectly helmed camera gives us some gorgeous (and somehow unaged) cinematography. His camera elevates the vision to a true art form.

Linklater understood his audience would want to place the film on the timeline. He placed clues to guide the film, like song choices and events like discussions about a seventh Star Wars film.


Boyhood is a visually stunning, emotionally resonant film that continues to impress and overwhelm each viewing. Linklater’s careful planning (he was to sign over directorial duties to Ethan Hawke if he died during production) led to an incredible film that will be known for its uniqueness as much as for its universality.



-Kyle A. Goethe

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