Lampooning horror movies is nothing new: Abbott and Costello met most of Universal's monsters in the '40s and '50s, the Carry On series had a Screaming! success with their 1966 Hammer spoof, and Mel Brooks' bonkers 1974 parody Young Frankenstein lit up the screen like a flash of lightning.
Scary Movie took things to the nth degree - and beyond the edge of reason - by parodying a parody (Scream), while Scary Movie 2 picked at the rotting corpse. Even worse, both movies favoured gross-out gags over satirical spiking of horror conventions.
The infusion, then, of Zucker blood - David, brother of Jerry, cohort of Jim Abrahams and one-third of the trio behind a trail of scattershot parodies going back to Airplane! - suggested Scary Movie 3 would be a battery-recharging blast. Not so. Instead we get a disappointing, sloppy, been-there-done-that gag reel (emphasis on `gag'). It's long on overkill pain humour (the Naked Gun sequels) and short on sly wit (Top Secret!). It also keeps up the franchise's lame tradition of venturing far from the horror path to poke fun at any hit that takes the filmmakers' fancy, goofing on 8 Mile by throwing Simon Cowell into the famed rap contest. It's the kind of half-arsed recreation you'd think Zucker would be above.
Which, to be fair, he occasionally is. Best scene is a bizarre, rude exchange between Logan (Charlie Sheen) and a trooper (Camryn Manheim) at the scene of a car accident, their riotous conversation echoing the tragic backstory given to Mel Gibson's widower in Signs. Anna Faris' presence also brings a few laughs, her ditzy charm and killer timing justifying the decision to hold her over from Scary Movies 1 and 2.
But that's your lot. Everyone else is too busy getting hit in the head/balls and falling over to offer anything worthwhile. And by the time Leslie Nielsen makes an appearance to repeat a joke from Airplane!, you're under no illusions that Scary Movie 3 is anything more than a tiresome spoof of a spoof.
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Plenty of slapstick but few laughs. What's frightening is that it scored big at the US box office, meaning Scary Movie 4 is in development.