School's out for summer — or close enough — and that means more opportunities to enjoy all of Denver's geeky fun times. June is yet another month packed full of top-notch geek entertainment, from our biggest con of the year to underappreciated geek films on the big screen. Here, in chronological order, are ten of the best geek events to keep you busy this June.
10. Welcome to the Dahl House: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Saturday, June 4
A monthlong series of film adaptations of Roald Dahl classics kicks off with arguably the greatest of them all: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Featuring Gene Wilder as the deranged titular character and a host of awful children who suffer ignominious ends at the hands of the mad candy maker, Willy Wonka has been terrifying and delighting children for decades, and now you can terrify your own kids with it — on the big screen. Plus, free cereal bar with admission!
See Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 4, at the Sie FilmCenter. Admission is $5 (kids six and under get in free!) and includes access to the cereal bar. For tickets and more information, including additional films in the series, visit the Denver Film Society website.
9. Films on Tap: Commando
Friday, June 10
It wasn't long ago that I declared, on this very website, that the Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner Commando was the "ice-cold Pabst" of the genre. No surprise, then, that I'm overjoyed to find the Denver Film Society is turning it into a drinking game. You'll drink when there's an explosion! You'll drink when they linger on Schwarzenegger's well-oiled torso! You'll drink with every one-liner delivered! You'll probably be pretty drunk, honestly, so maybe plan on grabbing a Lyft home. Fuck, yeah, Commando!
Drink and cheer for the nonstop killing of all who stand in the way of Commando at 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 10, 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.
8. Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown & Gameroom Expo
Friday, June 10-Sunday, June 12
No matter how advanced video games get, there's still something special about smacking a metal ball around a ringing, blinking maze of machinery. (And if you love video games, don't worry — there will be plenty of those on hand, too!) Celebrate the bliss of pinball with collectors, enthusiasts and exhibitors at the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown and Gameroom Expo. If you've got the skills, you can compete in the official tournaments — or just play a few friendly games on one of more than a hundred pinball and vintage arcade machines, all set to free play. It's like the ten-year-old you died and went to arcade heaven!
The event starts at 11 a.m. Friday, June 10, and runs through Sunday, June 12 ,at the Denver Marriott South at Park Meadows. Weekend passes are $75, it's $30 for a day pass, and there are reduced-price tickets for kids under twelve. For tickets and more info, visit the Pinball Showdown website.
7. Evil Dead: The Musical
Opening Friday, June 10
You read that right: Evil Dead: The Musical, as in a musical version of Sam Raimi's classic horror comedy series. The stage show combines plot elements from all three of the films — Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness — and then adds songs like "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons," "Look Who's Evil Now" and "Do the Necronomicon" to make one batshit crazy take on the timeless tale of possession, dismemberment and death. All that, plus a "splatter zone" where the audience gets covered in gore. Co-director Deb Flomberg promises that the show's second go-round is better, bigger and even bloodier than before. Groovy.
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. starting June 10 at the Bug Theatre. Tickets start at $20. For more info and tickets, visit the Equinox Theatre Company website.
6. Denver Mini Maker Faire
Saturday, June 11-Sunday, June 12
If you want to make things — to create, experiment, innovate and explore — there’s never been a better time to be alive. The "maker" movement is championing a DIY ethos when it comes to inventing and modifying anything and everything, using new tools like tiny, embeddable computers and 3D printing to enable a world of new possibilities. You can immerse yourself in this burgeoning movement at the Denver Mini Maker Faire, a two-day celebration of maker culture and the delightful possibilities it brings to life. From art cars to wearable technologies, from rockets to R2D2, the Faire is a hands-on exploration of the myriad possibilities available to creators and dreamers. Control the planetarium or make music by waving your arms around, join a workshop on inventing or just watch drones fly around — whether you’re a curiosity seeker or a hardcore maker yourself, the Faire offers a little something for everyone.
The Denver Mini Maker Faire runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12,at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Tickets are $19.95, with discounts available for museum members, seniors and children. For tickets and more info, visit the Denver Mini Maker Faire website.
Keep reading for five more great geek events this month.
5. Colorado Renaissance Festival
Opens Saturday, June 11
Hear ye, hear ye! For the fortieth consecutive year, the King declares that it's time to get post-medieval with the grand tradition of the Renaissance Festival. Immerse yourself in a lovingly re-created slice of sixteenth-century heaven, with minstrels, merrymakers and maidens aplenty wandering about, eating enormous turkey legs. Seven stages of olde-tyme entertainment will keep you smiling, and where the hell else are you going to go to see some jousting this summer? It's the next best thing to a Time Machine, and probably the best reason you'll find to wear that leather corset you bought on a whim last time you went to a renaissance fest.
The Colorado Renaissance Festival opens Saturday, June 11, in the Renaissance Festival Village in Larkspur and runs weekends through August 7. Tickets start at $20.50 for adults ($9 for kids age five to twelve) if purchased online. Get your tickets and more info at the Colorado Renaissance Festival website.
4. Denver Comic Con
Friday, June 17-Sunday, June 19
Arguably the biggest geek event of the entire year, Denver Comic Con is a can't-miss opportunity to get your geek on in the biggest possible way. Tens of thousands of enthusiasts from every walk of geek will fill the Colorado Convention Center for three days of pop-culture revelry. Don't let the name fool you: Comics are just one of the many draws, and guests and activities will encompass the entire geekosystem, from legends like guest Stan Lee to hard-core panels on the minutiae of your favorite fictional world.
Denver Comic Con kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday, June 17, at the Colorado Convention Center and runs through Sunday, June 19. Tickets start at $38.50 for an adult, single-day pass, or $82.50 for a three-day pass. For tickets and additional info, visit the Denver Comic Con website.
3. Scream Screen: Prince of Darkness
Saturday, June 18
All month, Theresa Mercado's Scream Screen is offering up gems from legendary filmmaker John Carpenter. They're all worth a look, but Prince of Darkness is the one that really deserves attention. Not because it's the best — The Thing, showing June 4, takes that honor — but because you probably haven't seen it in a long time, if ever, and it's a seriously underrated entry in the Carpenter canon. A weird, mind-bending tale of a group of researchers holed up in a church looking into the nature of evil while the world ends outside, Prince of Darkness is one of Carpenter's most ambitious and original films. Sure, it doesn't always work, but there's enough there to sink your teeth into, along with a handful of indelible images and some creepy atmosphere. Plus, Alice Cooper!
See Prince of Darkness at 10 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $11, or $8 for seniors and $7 for Denver Film Society members. For tickets and more info, visit the Denver Film Society website.
2. Kinetics Longmont Summer Solst-ish Happening 2016
Saturday, June 25
If you're going to go outside, it may as well be for a crazy reason — like watching a bunch of lunatics peddle a mechanical shark across a reservoir, right? The annual Kinetics race is like cosplay, a Makers Faire and a picnic, all rolled into one. Build yourself a crazy, human-powered boat, enter it in a race around the reservoir, and make sure you look good in costume while doing it! Or just watch a bunch of other geeks do all that while you sit safely on shore and enjoy a nice picnic lunch. Either way, it's a day out of the house that makes all that sunscreen and the trip to Longmont both seem worthwhile.
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The event starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 25, at Union Reservoir in Longmont. Just $10 will get in a carload of folks, or pay $2 if you're on foot/biking in. Bring a chair if you don't want to sit on the dirt, or build yourself a boat and register to compete. For more information, visit the Kineticists website.
1. The Graveyard Shift: Dr. Giggles
Wednesday, June 29
There are so few films about murderous dentists that it's truly important to cherish every one of them, and Dr. Giggles is definitely on the list. He's a dentist. He's a mad scientist, escaped from the loony bin. He's a slasher villain. He can probably even replace that loose crown for you. All in all, Dr. Giggles probably isn't a "classic" in any sense of the word, but it is the rare horror movie that strays outside the well-trod stable of villain archetypes for its creepy killer, and that's always worth a look for horror fans who have seen it all.
See Dr. Giggles, on 35mm, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, 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.