At long last, Geektober is almost here! Yes, the rest of the world may know it by its traditional name, October, but geeks know the month really belongs to us. Don't believe it? Just have a look at Denver's lineup of great geek fun for the month and you'll be convinced. From celebrations of horror film and zombie walks of enormous size to literary conventions galore, it's a damn fine time to be a local geek. Here are ten of October's best events, presented in chronological order.
10) Mile High Horror Film Festival
Can you think of a better way to kick off the Halloween season than with our own homegrown horror film festival? Of course you can't, because there is no better way. Now in its sixth year, the Mile High Horror Film Fest has matured into a world-class celebration of the best genre in film. This year's retrospective screenings include the zombie classic Return of the Living Dead (with Linnea Quigley in person!), Saw and Saw II (with Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell, in person!), The Devil’s Rejects (with Sid Haig in person) and, to top it all off, The Shining (with the creepy twins and the even creepier ghost bartender in person!). When you're ready to watch some new films, the fest offers fare like the promising new anthology film Tales of Halloween, with director Neil Marshall in person, and the meta slasher The Final Girls, to name just a couple. Then there are the panels, on everything from LGBT representation in horror to horror makeup how-tos, the sideshow performers, the exhibitors and, hell, even a haunted pinball machine. If you like horror even a little bit, you won't want to miss it.
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The festival starts at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, October 1, with an opening-night monster party and continues through Sunday at the Alamo Drafthouse. Individual tickets start at just $12 per film. For tickets, festival passes and more information, visit the Mile High Horror Film Festival website and the Alamo Drafthouse website.
9) Beautiful Monster film series (and more!)
The Denver Public Library kicks off a second year of its Beautiful Monster film series with The Invisible Man, a tale of mad science and murder from 1933. The following weeks bring the curse of The Wolf Man, the poor, tortured Creature from the Black Lagoon and the eternal torment of Dracula’s Daughter. Each film will be preceded by brief intro and followed by an audience discussion. All four share a theme of monsters who are, to varying degrees, sympathetic villains — tortured, cursed and conflicted souls that don't (always) do what they do out a sense of malice or evil, but because they are driven to it. All four films, while tame by today’s standards, are classics that helped create the language of horror, offering a glimpse of the early years of the genre. If that's not enough Halloween fun at the library, you can also enjoy a day of kid-friendly trick-or-treats on October 30, followed by a dusk showing of Hocus Pocus on the side of the building.
The series kicks off with The Invisible Man at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 6, in the B2 Conference Center of the Denver Central Branch, and continues every Tuesday at the same time through the month. Admission is free. For more info, visit the Fresh City Life page of the Denver Library website.
8) Reading Until Dawn Con
There are a lot of cons in Denver, but none quite like Reading Until Dawn Con. As the name suggests, it's a literary con, which isn't so unusual. But the focus branches out from the typical sci-fi, fantasy and horror emphasis of most cons into everything from romance to historical fiction, which is a little unusual. What's really special, though, is the emphasis on all-interactive programming — there are no panels or other such "serious" con activities at RUDC, just writers and fans hanging out in pillow forts (yes, really), playing games and having fun together. If you ever wanted to play boardgames with emcee Darynda Jones or have been dying to hit Mario Acevedo in the face with a pillow, this is your chance! (Note: we do not endorse hitting anyone with anything for any reason, even Acevedo, who totally deserves it.)
Reading Until Dawn Con starts at 5 p.m. Thursday, October 9, at the Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center. Passes are $85. There's also a special signing event on Saturday, October 11, starting at 3 p.m., that is just $5 (admission included with the full pass). For more information and to register, visit the Reading Until Dawn Con website.
7) Night of the Living Dead LIVE!
Now in its seventh year, the live stage adaptation of George Romero's seminal zombie film is an established Denver Halloween tradition. The story of seven strangers trapped in a farmhouse beset by the walking dead is funny, gory and full of surprises, even for people who've seen it before, since director Kris Hipps adds a new twist or two each year. This round, look out for homages to all your favorite horror films, and watch out for the blood spray. For extra fun — and a discounted ticket price — come dressed as a zombie yourself.
The show opens at 8 p.m. Friday, October 9, at the Bug Theatre and runs at the same time every Friday and Saturday through Halloween. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, or $15 at the door for zombies. For tickets and more information, visit the Bug Theatre website.
6) Denver Zombie Crawl
Speaking of zombies and Denver traditions, it wouldn't be October in Colorado without the Denver Zombie Crawl. Once again, thousands and thousands of undead enthusiasts will meet up to turn the 16th Street Mall into a real-life zombie apocalypse, to the delight and confusion of passersby. It's not just about the crawl, either — a full day of zombie fun is lined up, with bands, DJs, a zombie race before and after parties galore. As always, the organizers are vying for the world record for largest zombie crawl and collecting food for the needy, so do your part by preregistering and bringing along a non-perishable food item or two to donate.
On Saturday, October 17, the zombie crawl festivities will start as early as noon (if you need makeup help) in Skyline Park, with the actual crawl kicking off at 4 p.m. Admission is free, but organizers do request that participants preregister if possible. To do so, and for more info, including a schedule and list of related events, visit the Eye Heart Brains website.
5) Buzz Aldrin
Buckle up, space nerds — we've got royalty incoming. The legendary Buzz Aldrin — second man to walk on the moon, and the only moonwalker to ever punch a lunar denialist in the face — is coming to town to promote his books on space exploration. Aldrin will discuss and sign Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet and Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, his two recent books on our next steps in the great beyond. Welcome is aimed at younger readers, so bring the kids and let them witness living history.
See Buzz Aldrin at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 19, at the James H. Larue branch of the Douglas County Library. Admission is free, but seating is limited and preregistration is required. To register, and for more info, visit the Tattered Cover website.
Denver's oldest science fiction convention is back for its 47th annual iteration, and you don't last almost half a century without doing something right. First and foremost, it's a literary con, but there will also be plenty of gaming, cosplay, art and activities, like the famous critter-crunch robot battle. Still, the focus will be on the sweet author guests, readings and panels about writing, publishing and what makes good fiction — in between and all around those other things. Kevin Hearne and Kristine Kathryn Rusch top a lineup of dozens of science fiction, fantasy and horror authors attending, along with artist guest of honor Ursula Vernon.
MileHiCon runs from Friday, October 23 to Sunday, October 25, at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. Admission starts at $44 for all three days (presale) and $46 at the door, or day passes are available. For tickets and additional info, visit the MileHiCon website.
3) Dismember the Alamo
You know what's better than a horror movie? Four horror movies, shown back to back, with a special guest to seal the deal. And here's the twist — the movies and guest are all a secret until the event itself! Rest assured, though, that the good people of the Alamo know their horror and they're picking some gory gems for your viewing pleasure — and the secret horror guest is just the bloody icing on the cake. You might get anything from an old favorite to some obscure insanity you've never heard of, but it will all be worth your while. There's also a costume contest, so plan accordingly.
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2) A Nightmare on Elm Street
Earlier this year, the horror world lost the great Wes Craven. Say farewell to one of the genre's true superstars at a screening of his first, best masterpiece: A Nightmare on Elm Street. You can give it props for everything from launching the acting career of one Johnny Depp to introducing one of horror's iconic bad guys in Freddy Krueger — but most of all, what you should do is watch it again with new eyes and remember what a terrifying and fantastic work of art it truly is. As a nice bonus, it's screening via a nearly pristine 35mm print, just like they used when no one had any idea who Freddy Krueger was.
See A Nightmare on Elm Street at 10 p.m. Thursday, October 29, at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $11, $8 for students and seniors, or $7 for Denver Film Society members. For tickets and more info, visit the A Nightmare on Elm Street event page.
1) Colorado Horror Con
If kicking off the Halloween season with a film festival was the right thing to do, then closing it out with a horror convention is even more right. Celebrate the horrors of Halloween in style at the Colorado Horror Con, a three-day event dedicated to the dark and grisly in all sectors of the arts. Horror films, horror comics, even horror fashion are on the menu, and no horror fan should miss this. The one and only Joe Bob Briggs is the master of ceremonies, presiding over a lineup of everything from horror films to horror burlesque.
The horror begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, October 30, at the Ramada Plaza Northglenn. Weekend passes are available for $50, or pick up a day pass starting at just $20. For tickets and additional info, including a full lineup and schedule, visit the Colorado Horror Con website.