The Fear Project

The Fear Project

I recently had the chance to conjure up something unsettling for an upcoming horror film called The Fear Project, a found footage horror anthology likely to tap into the darkest corner of your psyche, extract what you fear most, and torment you with it.

Check out the trailer and more info over at More Horror: The Fear Project Poster is Revealed

Poster art and design for horror anthology film The Fear Project

Stripped

Stripped

Here is a preview of the music project I have been working on deep in the bowels of the Mental Shed between the soul-sucking day job and time spent in general self-loathing. The project is called Mary Had a Little Limb. We decided to start with a cover of Depeche Mode’s Stripped.

Mary Had a Little Limb – Stripped Teaser

Want to see and hear more of Mary Had a Little Limb as it progresses?

Follow the project here: Facebook | Tumblr

Scream Park Coming to DVD

Scream Park Coming to DVD

A while back I had the opportunity to do some early promo graphic work for the retro slasher Scream Park. That film, starring Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy and Hellraiser’s Doug Bradley (Pinhead himself) will be available on DVD and digital formats from Wild Eye Releasing on April 22nd.

I set out to capture the 80s slasher film aesthetic the producers of Scream Park were looking for through the weathered one-sheet design and hand-drawn horror movie logo.

You can still glimpse my original tagline from the poster designs in the trailer and on the new DVD cover: DEATH IS THE NEW ATTRACTION.

Check out the Scream Park trailer:

Horror movie poster design for 80s slasher throwback Scream Park

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

John Milton Paradise Lost quote
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.”

- John Milton, Paradise Lost

Merry Mental Shed Christmas

Merry Mental Shed Christmas

Friday the 13th Christmas Jason Voorhees in a Santa Hat

Merry Christmas from the Mental Shed!

Easy Article Rich Pins for WordPress

Easy Article Rich Pins for WordPress

Pinterest recently introduced rich pins for articles as part of their ongoing initiative to help good, authentic content break out from the otherwise unintelligible mess.

When an article without rich pins is pinned to Pinterest, an image from the page and a click-through link are all you see. To make it worse, the link and descriptive text can be edited by anyone who pins or re-pins the image.

Using structured data such as Schema.org or Open Graph, article rich pins ensure your content retains your text and link, and provides extra information such as article title and description. It also gives you some control over which image is pinned in association with your article.

This is invaluable for your horror blog or news site powered by WordPress. So how do you quickly, easily add valid, structured data for article rich pins?

How to add rich pins for articles to WordPress

You should be using an SEO plugin on WordPress. The two most commonly used plugins are Yoast and All In One SEO. I prefer the latter, but they essentially provide the same functionality.

In All In One SEO, navigate to the Feature Manager, where you can enable Social Meta. Then, click on the newly added Social Meta menu option, where you can configure your settings.

All In One SEO Settings for Rich Pins

All in One SEO pack WordPress plugin settings for rich pins

A little tweaking of the All in One SEO plugin settings can prepare your WordPress site for both Facebook links and Pinterest’s rich pins. Here is a quick rundown of the settings and what you need to know to get rich pins working correctly.

Use AIO SEO Title and Description
You will most likely want to check the box to use AIO SEO title and description. Your og meta tags will use the info you enter into the All In One SEO box for each individual post rather than the default WordPress data.

Profile Admins ID
This is specifically for Facebook Open Graph data. Go to https://graph.facebook.com/yourusername and replace yourusername with the username from your personal Facebook profile. Copy and paste the number for your profile ID.

Site Name
This should be auto filled, but change it if necessary.

Disable Jetpack Tags
I am not a huge fan of Jetpack, but I have recently started using it on some of my sites for enhanced comment functionality. As I do not utilize Jetpack for much else, I checked this box to prevent any other data from the plugin leaking into places I don’t want it.

Autogenerate OG Descriptions
I already set All in One SEO to auto-generate descriptions from excerpts or content, so I checked this box.

Select OG:Image Source
What image do you want users to pin, or Facebook to display when your article is linked? If your WordPress theme uses the Featured Image function, you may want that. Your theme may use custom fields, or you may want it to use the first available image. Play around with it if you are unsure, or upload a default og:image.

Use Custom Field for Image
If your theme uses custom fields for article images, and you selected custom fields for your og:image source, you will enter the name of the field to pull the image from in this box.

Facebook Object Type
You have two options for og:type. If you use a static page for the front page of your WordPress site, click the website option. If the front page of your site displays latest posts in a blog, news or magazine style, select the blog radio button.

Enable Facebook Meta For
You will most likely only want to select Posts and Pages, but you may have more post types you want optimized for, depending on your theme or plugins.

Posts Object Type
Make sure article is selected.

You may be using other plugins that could be adding their own og meta tags. If that is the case, it may cause conflicts and errors that could invalidate your Open Graph data. Use the Scan Social Meta option to detect if other tags are in use.

Validate Your Rich Pins

How to validate your WordPress rich pins for articles

Before you can apply for rich pins on Pinterest, you have to validate your data. Use the Rich Pins Validator. Paste in the URL to an article on your site and click the validate button.

If your article passes the test, Pinterest will then give you the option to apply for rich pins. When you click to apply, a window pops up asking how your rich pin data is structured. The All in One SEO social meta feature uses og meta data, so you should select the HTML Tags option.

It may take a couple of weeks for you to hear back from Pinterest, so be patient. Don’t start taking hostages yet.

For more help understanding the All In One SEO plugin Social Meta options, check out the documentation right here.

Chuck Palahniuk in Milwaukee

Chuck Palahniuk in Milwaukee

I had the opportunity to catch Chuck Palahniuk with Monica Drake and Chelsea Cain in Milwaukee October 12th. It was an odd experience. You don’t go to many readings where you get to throw around glowing balls and play Mad Libs with words like “anal beads.”

Read my review for Wisconsin Sickness here: Chuck Palahniuk in Milwaukee

Waverly Hills on Cult of Weird

Waverly Hills on Cult of Weird

When I discovered author and paranormal investigator J. Nathan Couch was spending his Summer vacation in search of ghosts and monsters in Kentucky, which included a trip to the dreaded Waverly Hills Sanatorium, I promptly commenced with the goat sacrifices and backwards record playing in hopes of conjuring some abomination from the abyss to convince him to write about it for Cult of Weird.

It turns out that was all completely unnecessary and just made a big mess, because all I had to do was ask Nate if he would write the article and he agreed.

I have read (and designed the cover of) Nate’s book Washington County Paranormal, a collection of strange and twisted tales from the town and surrounding areas I’ve grown up in. I’ve attended several of Nate’s guided ghost walks and readings. I also have the regular pleasure of reading Nate’s skillfully woven and entertaining contributions to Wisconsin Sickness. I quite enjoy his open-minded but logical approach to claims of paranormal phenomena, which is evident in the Waverly article as he discusses some of the explainable and unexplained things that happened during his time inside the immense, foreboding structure.

Widely regarded as one of the most haunted places in the US, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium has a very dark and tragic past. It is most known for the infamous Death Tunnel, where bodies where secreted out at the height of the tuberculosis epidemic when the “white plague” was claiming Waverly patients at the rate of one per hour.

Read more about the history of Waverly Hills and Nate’s experiences inside:

Waverly Hills Sanatorium by J. Nathan Couch

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Now I have to get back to scrubbing goat blood and demon residue out of the carpet.

Tideland IV

Tideland IV

The house at the end of the ocean

I was a child and she was a child in our kingdom by the sea.

Evil Dead

Evil Dead

Some love it, some pretentious film nerds hate it. If you went into the theater expecting the original Evil Dead, you’re an idiot. The Evil Dead was remade twice (Within the Woods) prior to the 2013 offering produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, the sick fucks responsible for the original movies. It was a different movie each time, with the same basic plot points.

Very little was changed this time around, besides toning down the campiness and raising brutality to a whole new level. The production design was beautiful, the blood and gore plentiful, the nods to the original film clever and humorous.

My only complaint about the new Evil Dead is the marketing. While the debut red band trailer was badass, the reaction video trailers were stupid. Maybe that trick fooled people into going to see the first Paranormal Activity, but Evil Dead is not some lame found-footage film from horror amateurs without a budget.

And then there were the one-sheets.

The original Evil Dead flicks had some ridiculously cool poster work and promo materials. Ash, skeletal hands, chainsaws, blood. What the hell happened?

Evil Dead horror movie poster design by Mental Shed Studios