\’45 minutes of terror\’

Myron St. John created the Haunted Prison Experience at the Ohio State Reformatory this year. The theme is "Dead Walk."


MANSFIELD — The Ohio State Reformatory’s Haunted Prison Experience begins Friday night.

“Dead Walk” is sure to scare people who dare to walk through the prison, organizers say. Plenty of zombies, ghosts and demons will be floating, walking and hanging about, not to mention the live actors visitors will see.

Producer Myron St. John, of Maumee, said the haunted experience will be one of the biggest shows he’s ever done at the historic prison-turned-museum.

For the 12th consecutive year, St. John and wife, Kathy, who operate Haunted X Enterprises LLC, will produce the “Haunted Prison Experience” at the former Ohio State Reformatory from Friday to Oct. 31. Last year, thousands of visitors participated in the frightening adventure, a fundraiser for the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society.

St. John has developed a scary, 45-minute walk-through of the former prison’s cell blocks and part of the basement, including the solitary confinement area. He promises “the longest, scariest haunted experience ever at the Ohio State Reformatory.”

“We’ve had a lot of people bail out early,” St. John said. “(Some say) ‘I don’t want to go any farther. I’m too scared.’ We’ve had a lot of pant-wetters.”

A former Hollywood stunt man, actor and rock singer, St. John has more than 20 years of experience designing, producing and consulting on haunted houses. He employs make-up artists who have worked on horror films and uses professional props. About 80 people make the event a success.

The magazine Haunt World voted the reformatory 2010’s Most Authentic Haunt and in the top 2 percent of all haunts across the country.

St. John said if you like ghosts and demons, “we got ’em.”

He said this season’s haunted experience is infested with zombies and “45 minutes of terror.”

St. John said he’s not responsible for any paranormal happenings. He said the reformatory is a place where the paranormal meets special effects.

“People like gory stuff, so I give it to them,” he said.

Visitors can expect to see a skeleton climbing up and down a rope, zombies hanging upside down and lurching at guests and more.

“There’s a few surprises,” he said.

“When you see it, you’ll never know what is real or not real (live actors or mannequins),” he said.

The event costs $17 per person and is open to people 13 and older.

The prison, which opened its doors in 1896 to the first 150 inmates, is spectacular alone, and especially spooky after dark.

The Mansfield Reformatory was built in 1886. The 250,000-square-foot prison is constructed in three architectural styles — Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne.

It contains the world’s largest free-standing steel cell block with six tiers, 12 ranges and 600 cells. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tours are given May through October by the preservation society.

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