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Scare Tactics

Pam Anderson, X-rated in ''Scary Movie 3''? She and Charlie Sheen are getting giddy to bring new life (and death) to the franchise's third installment

Jenny McCarthy, Scary Movie 3: Episode I -- Lord of the Brooms | THE SPOOF IS OUT THERE ''Scary Movie 3'' opens Oct. 24
THE SPOOF IS OUT THERE ''Scary Movie 3'' opens Oct. 24

Here's some chilling news for ''Scary Movie'' fans: The Wayans brothers, who previously masterminded the $228 million-grossing franchise, had no involvement in the upcoming ''Scary Movie 3'' (Oct. 24). But fear not. Their replacement, director David Zucker, is an old hand at the ''Scary'' brand of lowbrow farce; he codirected 1980's cult classic ''Airplane!'' and helmed the first two ''Naked Gun'' spoofs. And if that's not enough, he's cast Charlie Sheen as the lead in ''3'' and enlisted cameos from Pamela Anderson, Queen Latifah, and many more. Will they capture the series' dopey charm? Here's how they'll try:

THE PREMISE (MORE OR LESS) The hapless Cindy (Anna Faris) is now working as a TV anchorwoman and is assigned to cover the discovery of a crop circle on Charlie Sheen's farm. ''Charlie is basically the Mel Gibson character from 'Signs,''' says Zucker. Soon, Cindy's best friend Brenda gets killed by a cursed videotape (à la ''The Ring''). As Cindy investigates, she runs into, yes, Morpheus (Eddie Griffin, not Laurence Fishburne), who tells her that she's The One. Eventually, the president (Leslie Nielsen!), his Secret Service agent (Ja Rule), and his top assistant (D.L. Hughley) get involved, as the cast combats an ''Independence Day''-style alien invasion. ''We had to combine the plots of four or five movies,'' says Zucker. ''But it's more or less kind of cohesive.''

THE MATRIX? After Zucker and his crew saw ''The Matrix Reloaded'' in May, they were so inspired that they shut down production for two weeks to incorporate an elaborate parody of the Wachowski brothers' epic. ''We got Eddie Griffin, and we restructured and rewrote a lot of scenes,'' says Zucker. ''Scenes that were 'Ring' or 'Signs' parodies were shifted to 'The Matrix.''' Meanwhile, the movie also incorporates smaller-scale potshots at ''The Hulk'' and ''A Beautiful Mind,'' among other targets.

THE CAMEOS From Queen Latifah to Camryn Manheim, the movie is packed with celebs in small parts. But the most memorable stunt casting is on display in the film's opening scene, in which Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy play Catholic schoolgirls who get their hands on the ''Ring''-style videotape. Explains Zucker: ''In the scene, Jenny's confused by the tape. She says, 'I've seen that one, they're on a boat and they get X-rated.' So Pamela gets all embarrassed.'' There's no Tommy Lee cameo, though -- that would be just too scary.

Originally posted Jul 21, 2003