Hey Vern, it’s the Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
The road to Halloween isn’t just about watching as many horror movies as possible, but rather embracing anything and everything that is, for lack of a better word, Halloweeny. From eating ALL the pumpkin treats to revisiting the Roseanne Halloween episodes, there are many things that I just need to do each year to get myself in the proper spirit, and I’m surely not alone when I say that watching the 1991 comedy gem Ernest Scared Stupid is one of those things.
Released on October 11th of that year, Ernest Scared Stupid is essentially Ernest P. Worrell’s Halloween special, and in it the lovable idiot summons forth an ancient troll when he messes around with a tree it had been contained in; in Ernest’s defense, he was just trying to help a group of local kids create the ultimate Halloween haunted house. The diminutive troll, once freed from his prison, begins collecting children and quite literally turning them into wooden dolls, and once he acquires five of them, he’s able to unleash an army of trolls to do his bidding and, well, take over the world and stuff.
Trolls, man. Aren’t they just the worst?
The most noteworthy aspect of Ernest Scared Stupid is undoubtedly the creature effects, which came courtesy of the Chiodo Brothers. The brothers were tasked with not just creating the main troll but also his pint-sized army of creatures, and like always, they knocked the gig totally out of the park. Without their incredible effects work, I’m honestly not sure I’d revisit Ernest’s Halloween hijinks around this time each year, and I say that with all due respect to the late Jim Varney.
But what makes the trolls extra special is that some of them are actually Klowns!
Ernest Scared Stupid came out just three years after Killer Klowns from Outer Space, which was of course the Chiodo Brothers’ masterpiece. They designed the various Klowns in the film, in addition to writing and directing, and two of those Klowns actually ended up being re-purposed, believe it or not, for Ernest Scared Stupid. During the 1991 film’s most memorable sequence, wherein all the newly-spawned trolls are running wild, slightly modified versions of two masks the Chiodos whipped up for Killer Klowns are worn by the performers playing trolls, and we’ve screen-grabbed them for you below – alongside their Klown counterparts!
As you can see, the noses were changed and the masks completely repainted, but other than those slight alterations, they’re immediately recognizable as the same masks used in Killer Klowns from Outer Space. In all likelihood, it was less an homage on the part of the Chiodo Brothers and more a side effect of the budget they were provided with; after all, simply reusing existing materials from their workshop was a pretty smart way to bulk up the troll army.
Another fun connection between Killer Klowns and Ernest Scared Stupid is the manner in which the trolls die. After being squirted with milk, they disappear into thin air after a brief light show spectacular, which is pretty much, aside from the whole milk thing, exactly how the Klowns die!
I leave you with a behind-the-scenes shot from Ernest Scared Stupid, which shows one of the Chiodo Brothers posing with the various troll masks. The two masks to the far left on the second row are the Klowns that were given a second life as trolls.
Pretty cool, huh?!