When Steve Fjeldsted started out as South Pasadena’s city librarian seven years ago, one of the first things he learned was that people make pilgrimages to South Pas to see sites, many of them around the library, where films have been shot.
In 2007, Fjeldsted learned about the remake of Halloween, a 1978 film shot in South Pas. “The Rialto theater was still open and I couldn’t help but ask if we could show Halloween at the Rialto,” Fjeldsted recalls. “It seemed like the film might help save the theater—help revive it—and it would be a good Halloween event for the community.”
The Rialto jumped at the idea—but there was a problem: For legal reasons, the producers of the original Halloween said the film could not be shown in any movie theater in the same year as its 2007 remake.
“But they said, You can show it at the library if you want,” Fjeldsted recalls. “We had a really interesting discussion at the Library Board of Trustees meeting, and the idea was voted down 3-2 because it’s an R-rated film.”
Adds Fjeldsted: “There’s some skin and there’s some blood, but it’s not like an R-rated film of today by any means—it’s a 1978 R-rated film. Anyhow, it just didn’t work out.”
But Fjeldsted has always had it in his mind to screen Halloween at the library. “Last year we screened the Blair Witch Project, and there were no problems at all—no one complained,” he says. “And then this year I heard that Halloween was going to celebrate its 35th anniversary—and we began discussions about screening it.”
Thanks to Fjeldsted’s dogged determination and support from a number of sources, including Friends of the Rialto, Halloween will finally be screened in the library community room this coming Thursday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. The screening will feature a special guest—Brian Andrews, who plays Tommy Doyle in the film.
In fact, the film will be screened on what will be the city’s first-ever “John Carpenter Night.” That's right—in case you missed the news, the South Pasadena City Council recently declared Oct. 31 John Carpenter Night to honor the name of the USC film school alumnus who directed Halloween.
All of which raises the question: Why has it taken so long to screen a film that was filmed almost entirely in South Pasadena? For one thing, the library no longer has the same board of trustees. For another, “Halloween keeps growing in stature as a local cultural icon each year,” explains Fjeldsted, adding that the 1978 classic is easily the most successful indie film of all times.
Filmed almost entirely in South Pasadena in just 20 days on a shoestring budget of $320,000, the film, starring renowned actor Donald Pleasance, grossed more than $65 million (at least $200 million in today’s dollars) and has been followed by seven sequels, says Fjeldsted. Halloween also launched the career of actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who played Laurie Strode, a resident of 1115 Oxley St., across from the library.
“It’s going to be real fun to see the film on a giant screen in the library community room,” Fjeldsted says, adding: “And we’re asking the community to support this very South Pasadena event.”