Rooker, Banks set to topline Gunn-helmed pic

Strike Entertainment and Gold Circle Films have joined forces on “Slither,” a horror pic that marks the directing debut of James Gunn, who most recently scripted the “Dawn of the Dead” remake.

Casting for a Feb. 8 start in Vancouver, Gunn has so far set Michael Rooker and Elizabeth Banks.

Universal will distribute domestically, and the film is being eyed to bow around Halloween.

Gunn wrote an original that uses a specific horror genre as its touchstone.

“It harkens back to the ‘body horror’ subgenre of the ’80s, where a parasite takes over the body,” Gunn explained.

“Slither” takes place in a South Carolina town where an inhabitant (Rooker) becomes infected by an alien parasite. It spreads to other townsfolk while its original host turns into a loathsome-looking baddie. Pic will rely heavily on prosthetic effects.

Pic will be produced by Strike’s Eric Newman and Gold Circle prexy Paul Brooks, exec produced by Strike’s Marc Abraham, Tom Bliss, Scott Niemeyer and Norm Waitt. U’s Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark are supervising.

Though best known for writing the “Scooby-Doo” films, Gunn cut his teeth writing Troma fare such as “Tromeo and Juliet.”

Brooks said his label was eager to continue the fright film momentum it built with “White Noise,” which is in the early stages of being sequelized. Strike, run by Abraham and Newman, has become horror-heavy after scoring a hit with the “Dawn of the Dead” redo. Company also is mounting a remake of “The Bad Seed” at Warner Bros.

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