“It was like the idiot version of Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Whenever I want to forget all of life’s troubles and watch something silly, I can often be found popping in one of the many films featuring late actor Jim Varney’s most iconic character, Ernest P. Worrell.
The cartoonish buffoon, always wearing a blue denim vest and tan baseball cap, burst onto the scene in a series of commercials in the early ’80s, eventually becoming the star of his own TV series and hit movie franchise.
For obvious reasons, my personal favorite movie in the 9-film “Ernest Canon” is Ernest Scared Stupid, a 1991 sequel that saw Ernest unwittingly unleashing an army of trolls on Halloween. Other adventures the character went on in the ’80s and into the ’90s included Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest Goes to Jail and Ernest Goes to Africa.
The franchise came to a close with 1998’s Ernest in the Army, a direct-to-video film released just two years before Varney succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 50.
Of course, there were many other Ernest films that never ended up coming to fruition. The prematurely announced Ernest Spaced Out would’ve sent the lovable idiot to outer space, while Ernest and the Water Baby was to present an E.T.-inspired tale of Worrell finding and befriending a small creature at an alligator farm.
And then there was Ernest and the Voodoo Curse, a planned horror-comedy that would’ve been in the vein of Ernest Scared Stupid. Varney collaborator Coke Sams spilled the beans on the aborted project in an interview with the now-defunct website Know the Artist many years ago, which we were able to dig up from the Internet Archive.
“I know Ernest and the Voodoo Curse got as far as a script,” Sams told the site. “We went back to the Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein kind of thing. It had a really bad guy and happened on an island like Hawaii. I think, by that time, we had decided we were going to be smart enough to write movies that take place at beaches. [laughs] ‘What if we all got to go to Hawaii? Wouldn’t that be fun!’ So we had Voodoo and a high priest. It was like the idiot version of Raiders of the Lost Ark. We had lines of zombies, Voodoo potions, and Ernest pretending to be a zombie.”
He continued, “Ernest and the Voodoo Curse actually was pretty funny. There was a woman in it, who had one blue eye and one brown eye. She was supposed to be the woman of Ernest’s dreams. Of course, she would have nothing to do with him. It was fun to do the script. I remember that one fondly.”
Sigh. At least we’ll always have Ernest Scared Stupid, which literally turned the Killer Klowns from Outer Space into Halloween trolls. No seriously, I’m not lying!