Sure, July is all about fireworks and celebrating the launch of the American endeavor, but when it's time to take a break from all the backyard pyrotechnics and flag waving, you'll be happy to find a month well stocked with geek fun. From the greatest fan film ever made to the nation's nerdiest county fair, July will bring the geek. Here are ten of the month's best geek choices, presented in chronological order for easy planning purposes.
10. Raiders of the Lost Ark celebration! Raiders tribute film, doc and more
An entire generation of kids who saw Raiders of the Lost Ark 35 years ago wanted desperately to be Indiana Jones. For two of them, Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, it wasn’t enough to just pretend in the back yard: They spent the next seven years – plus a bit more after they were all grown up – lovingly recreating the film. That odyssey in adolescent film-making took most of a decade and $5,000 to finish, and now you can see it, along with a brand-new doc about the pair and the film, Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, in the best Raiders-themed double feature to ever not feature the original film (you can see that, too, on a different day).
See the Raiders double-feature at 7:45 p.m. Friday, July 1, at the Alamo Drafthouse. After the films, Strompolos and Zala will stick around for a Q&A. For tickets, $11.25, and more info, visit the Alamo website. The documentary about the filmmakers, Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, opens July 1 at the Sie FilmCenter; Strompolos and Zala will be there Saturday, July 2, for a Q&A after the 7 p.m. showing of the documentary, with a screening of their fan adaptation at 9:30 p.m.. The Sie will show the original Raiders at 2 p.m Sunday, July 3.; for information and tickets, go to the Denver Film Society website. Learn more about the films at the Raiders Guys website.
9. Film on the Rocks: Scream
By the time the '90s rolled around, the slasher genre was feeling pretty tired. Then Wes Craven delivered Scream, revitalizing the moribund genre with a smart, fresh take on its tired tropes. It would be a stretch to say the film saved horror, but it certainly gave it a much needed kick in the ass and gave a whole generation of budding horror fans a first favorite movie, while offering old-school fans just as much to love. Now, at twenty years old, it's poised to charm yet another generation of fans, this time as a venerated pillar of the genre. (Plus, if there's any better place to see it than under the stars at Red Rocks, I can't imagine what that would be.)
Scream will screen Thursday, July 7, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The evening starts at 7 p.m. with a performance by Emerald Siam, with the film to follow. For tickets, $15 to $65, and more info, visit the Denver Film Society website.
8. Films on Tap: Office Space
The lack of laser guns, magic swords and supernatural happenings may suggest that Office Space is not a true geek film, but don't be fooled: Any film about three programmers trapped in a dead-end job, packed with references to Superman III and Kung Fu and wish-fulfillment scenes about taking out that miserable fucking printer, is all about that geek life. You've seen Office Space a dozen times before, but now you get to enjoy it (in 35mm) as a drinking game to chase away that chronic case of the Mondays. Drink every time someone mentions a TPS report — but plan on Lyfting home, because you're going to be shitfaced if you do that.
Drink and cheer for the triumph of the put-upon nerds of Office Space at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 8, at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $11, $8 for seniors and $7 for Denver Film Society members. For tickets and more info, visit the Denver Film Society website.
7. MotherF**ker in a Cape: Women Inside
Dig deep into the diverse and sprawling world of comics and geek culture with MotherF**ker in a Cape, a new Denver podcast taping live at Mutiny Information Cafe. Headed up by local comics writer Alan Brooks and Mutiny Information Cafe comics guru Jordan Froehlich, the podcast aims to shine a light on some of the less-explored aspects of comics and the larger culture that surrounds them. For their second live taping, the duo will focus on women in comics, with guests Morgan Beem and Cachet Whitman in person to discuss their experiences as women in the comics industry.
Catch the live taping of MotherF**ker in a Cape at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at Mutiny Information Cafe, and look for the podcast on iTunes and the Mutiny Information Cafe website. Admission is free. For more information, visit the MotherF**ker in a Cape Facebook event page.
6. Sci-Fi Film Series
For the past few years, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Denver Film Society have been making the geek equivalent of peanut butter and chocolate: Take some great science fiction films — both recent and classic releases — and add a real scientist to talk about the science behind the film. The results are glorious. This year's slate of films kicks off with Perfect Sense and follows that with 2030, The Martian, the original King Kong and The Matrix. Metro State University film professor Vincent Piturro will be on hand to discuss the films' cinematic merits, along with a scientist with the appropriate expertise on the subject matter. If you've ever wanted to ask an honest-to-god scientist, "So, do androids dream of electric sheep?" this is your best shot.
See Perfect Sense at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at the Sie FilmCenter, with a new film each Wednesday. Tickets are $15 or $12 for DMNS members and $8 for students. For tickets and more details, including location info for future films, visit the DMNS Sci-Fi Film Series page.
Keep reading for more great geek events this month.
5. Magic: The Gathering Eldritch Moon pre-release
The newest expansion for Magic: The Gathering, the world's most popular trading-card game, is hitting shelves this month, and that means it's pre-release time. The latest set, Eldritch Moon, completes the story started in Shadows over Innistrad, as cosmic horrors overtake everyone's favorite already-horrific plane! Magic's pre-release tournaments are among its most casual events, meaning they're a great way to dip your toe into the water of competitive play, even if you're a total noob. Heck, especially if you're a total noob, since a new set is always a good time to jump in. If you've been playing the digital Magic Duels on your computer or console and wondering if it's time to make the jump to the actual card game, this is the way to do it — it's a sealed event, so you don't even need to own any cards to play.
July 16-17, various locations. Price may vary, but expect to spend about $30, which nets you six packs of cards plus a special promo card. For more information, check out the official Magic: The Gathering website, and find a location near you with Wizards of the Coast's store locator.
4. Science Friction: Moon
Long before Duncan Jones fell into the abyss of video-game adaptations, he made his auspicious debut with the minimalist sci-fi of Moon. It's just Sam Rockwell, the disembodied voice of Kevin Spacey and the intense isolation of a living alone on the moon, used in the service of exploring questions about identity, loneliness and corporate greed. One of the smartest sci-fi films of the past decade, and yet one that is still sadly underappreciated, Moon is a must-see for science fiction fans as well as anyone who likes a movie that asks you to think instead of just spraying explosions in your face for ninety minutes.
Looking good, Jupiter!
NASA, ESA, E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)
3. The Science Lounge: Unveiling Jupiter
Jupiter is the solar system's not-so-gentle giant, a giant seething ball of gas wracked with storms bigger than our planet. You can dive deep into the mysteries of Jupiter and its many moons — and have a few drinks while you do — at this month's Science Lounge, which will bring you up to speed on the arrival of the latest Jovian spacecraft, Juno, and the latest developments and discoveries about our solar system's biggest badass of a planet.
Drink and learn about Jupiter sfrom 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Tickets are $15, or $13 for members, and this is a 21+ event. For more information and tickets, visit the Science Lounge: Unveiling Jupiter page.
2. Graveyard Shift: Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror
Are you ready for the best/worst zombie movie ever made? I'm going to be honest: You probably aren't. The infamous Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror is an implausible nightmare of an Italian zombie movie, featuring such insanity as a dwarf in a bad hairpiece playing a twelve-year-old-boy, the world's creepiest incest subplot, dollar store-quality zombie makeup and random bear traps. Plus, absolutely no plot, just a succession of victims. This is the kind of movie you'll be telling people about for years, and those people won't believe you, because Burial Ground truly has to be seen to be believed. Don't miss it.
See Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (on 35mm!), at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, at the Alamo Drafthouse. Tickets are $7 or $8 with a donation to the American Genre Film Archive. For tickets and more info, visit the Alamo Drafthouse Denver website.
A visitor to the Denver County Fair from years past.
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1) Denver County Fair
You'd be hard-pressed to find a county fair anywhere in the country geekier than the Denver County Fair. How geeky? Well, there's the zombie beauty pageant, zombie shooting range (don't mix them up!), Andrew Novick's X-Treme Breakfast, a celebration of Star Trek's fiftieth anniversary, and even unicorn rides. Pretty geeky. If you need a break from all that geekery, you've also got all the usual fair attractions — animals, pie-eating contests and the like — plus the geek-friendly, but not explicitly geeky, Kitten Pavilion. Meow!
The fair starts Friday, July 29, at the National Western Complex. Adult tickets are $15 for the weekend, $8 for kids, with a variety of day passes, discounts and special packages available. For more information, visit the Denver County Fair website.