In an industry where imitation is built into the collective DNA, few filmmakers can be legitimately credited with creating a genre, but it's easy to view David Zucker as a genuine progenitor.
Zucker made 1980's "Airplane!" with brother Jerry and long-time friend Jim Abrams. Even if "Airplane!" wasn't Hollywood's first spoof, it established the comic pacing for a generation of filmmakers. Zucker, whose latest effort is "Scary Movie 4," has been spoofing for so long that he's set down the genre's regulations in writing.
"We have 15 rules, which are mainly things not to do and that just helps in the writing," Zucker explains. "When we argue about what should be in the script, we just cite a rule like, 'Well, you can't do that, because it's a joke within a joke.'"
Surely one rule is that you have to admire the films you're spoofing, at least on some level, right David?
"You have to have some kind of affection for these movies and I guess my affection for 'Brokeback Mountain' is its outrageousness, I think, that they made a movie out of that that was so poorly done," he says.
With a risque scene involving Anthony Anderson and Kevin Hart, "Scary Movie 4" becomes the first mainstream movie to include a "Brokeback Mountain" parody, but that doesn't mean that Zucker feels any real warmth for the recent awards favorite.
"I think the Oscars are a great thing for the industry, but I don't take 'em really seriously," says Zucker, an Academy member. "I get all the movies. I can screen them at home. 'Brokeback Mountain' was hard to watch even at home and I couldn't scan it and I wanted to scan it. It was like watching paint dry. I couldn't wait until the guys kissed each other, because it was at least some action. Something happened."
Zucker doesn't feel much sunnier toward several of the other movies he spoofs in "Scary Movie 4," including a certain Steven Spielberg blockbuster he watched after undergoing a minor surgical procedure.
"I'm just recovering from the anesthesia and I'm watching 'War of the Worlds' and it was torture," he says. "Craig Mazin and Bob Weiss, the producers, said I fell asleep three times, so they made me see it again in Vancouver."
Hollywood's reigning king of twisty thrillers also takes a beating.
"If I ever met M. Night Shyamalan, I'd just shake his hand and tell him how much I love him because he makes the best movies," Zucker begins. "I don't mean 'best' as in 'good,' but the best spoofable movies. He takes himself so seriously. 'Signs,' how can you ask for anything better than that? Except 'The Village.'"
Despite the appearance of a certain Naomi Watts-loving money in the "Scary Movie 4" poster, Zucker confesses that "King Kong" is one movie audiences should expect to see lampooned.
"It was purely a ruse to get people to be interested in seeing the movie," he cackles.
"Scary Movie 4" is now in theaters.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times