Imagine a monster that could mimic your voice, steal your soul, and turn you into a wooden doll. One that is immune to bullets, physical harm, and could spawn an army. Hellraiser? Freddy Kruger on a good day? Jason Voorhees if he took some whittling classes?
Ernest Scared Stupid may not be the most frightening horror movie ever made—that’s Hereditary and Shazam! territory. When it comes to a monster villain? A six-year-old me was scared of Trantor the Troll. Jim Varney’s Ernest hit the thing with a car and spawned a meme from it. For the entire runtime of this movie, Trantor was the childhood version of Michael Myers with a huge bag of tricks.
The scene that sticks out the most? Trantor chasing the main character, Kenny. You think, sure this isn’t so scary, a chase in a horror film? But then, after imitating Kenny’s friend’s voice, luring him to a storm drain, Trantor aimed to strike. When Kenny sees it’s a trap, he runs. Trantor? A Mack truck being driven by Mad Max, with flames coming out of it. Trantor ran through a fence like Marshawn Lynch ran through a defense. The monster may as well have been Darren Sproles or Sean McCoy to Kenny. The whole time? Trantor is mocking Kenny with his friend’s stolen voice.
Ernest Scared Stupid is one of those classic Halloween films but people really slept on a bulletproof, voice imitating, child abducting, monster. Trantor was scary for a six-year-old and still is today.
Watching this movie again today, the fear factor doesn’t exactly hold up. But watching through my own filter of nostalgia, I can still feel that same feeling of terror as I did at six years old.