GUTHRIE, Okla. (KFOR) – The recipe for what it takes to scare us is pretty simple, according to Guthrie Haunts owner, John Pagonis.

For the past 13 years, he’s been doing just that.

“My secret?” Pagonis smiles. “My secret is, it has to scare me. If it scares me, it’ll scare you.”

Take simple items, junk to most people.

Distress it, melt it, splatter it with red paint, and turn off the lights.

That usually does the trick for the usual haunted houses.

But Pagonis says, “We want to be the scariest haunt in Oklahoma.”

If you want to stay in this crazy business, you have to keep going.

The ante goes up every October.

John says, “We want to give people a really memorable experience.”

That’s why Pagonis continues his macabre search among places like marker companies.

They occasionally make deadly mistakes.

Pointing to several marble tombstones decorating the exit to his haunt, he cautions, “They’re basically misprints.”

Increasing the scary ratio is also why he keeps adding the time it takes to get through his haunt.

Five years ago, it took the average visitor about 45 minutes to come out the other side,

It takes much longer now.

John’s standards harken back to the haunts at Bricktown and the Fairgrounds when he was young.

“Those were some scary places,” he recalls.

With sound effects and with innocent things like drips of warm water raining down from the roof of a hearse which he insists feels just like blood.

“We have people crawl through here,” he chuckles.

With scary clowns and severed limbs, he takes a shotgun approach to fear and loves it best when his customers make it out barely alive.

“I watch for reactions like, ‘man. that was the best ever!'” he says. “That’s what makes me feel best, is those kinds of reactions as people leave.”


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