Things to Do

10 Nerdy Things to Do This October in Metro Phoenix

The Cybertronic Spree bring their robot rock to The Rebel Lounge this month.
The Cybertronic Spree bring their robot rock to The Rebel Lounge this month. The Cybertronic Spree
click to enlarge The Cybertronic Spree bring their robot rock to The Rebel Lounge this month. - THE CYBERTRONIC SPREE
The Cybertronic Spree bring their robot rock to The Rebel Lounge this month.
The Cybertronic Spree
October is always a month filled with geeky pursuits and most typically have something to do with Halloween. There are costumes to plan, haunted houses to check out, and scary movies to watch on TV.

All that said, there are more than just Halloween-themed things to do in metro Phoenix this month, including events involving battling dinosaurs, a Transformers-themed metal band, a full moon viewing party, and a performance by Monty Python co-founder John Cleese.

If you’re looking for scary stuff, we’ve got that too. There’s the annual Fearcon, a Halloween-themed art show, and a film festival screening some spooky flicks.
click to enlarge Saurian smackdowns await at Jurassic Fight Night. - GILA RIVER ARENA
Saurian smackdowns await at Jurassic Fight Night.
Gila River Arena

Jurassic Fight Night

Jurassic Fight Night is like the battles you used to put your plastic dinosaurs toys through as a kid, only on a bigger scale. The event – which is equal parts Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Robot Wars, and UFC (with a bit of WWE-style spectacle thrown into the mix) – comes to Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue, in Glendale on Friday, October 8, and Saturday, October 9, involves animatronic dinosaurs like Steve “The Spinecrusher” Spinosaurus, Rex “The Carnivore King,” and Rowdy Roddy Raptor engage in ferocious battles within a boxing/wrestling ring. Multiple bouts consisting of three two-minute rounds will take place throughout the evening with the overall winner getting a dino-sized championship belt. There probably won’t be too many punches thrown (owing to the tiny arm spans of most of the competitors), but plenty of bites, kicks, and tail-swipes are likely to happen. The fights are at 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $24.75 to $94.75.

Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival

People who like scary and thrilling movies, as well as independent cinema, can indulge in these pursuits at the Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival from Friday, October 8, to Sunday, October 11, at Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 North Third Street. According to organizer Hal Astell, it's a genre film festival that offers a mix of horror, sci-fi, action, fantasy, and cult films. This will be the fifth edition of the festival and its first in-person event happening in a couple of years due to the pandemic. A total of eight feature-length movies (including What Doesn’t Kill Us, A Feral Package, and The Basement) and 63 short films will be shown throughout the weekend. The festival starts at 11 a.m. each day and general admission is $60 and student admission is $30. More details and a complete schedule can be found here.
click to enlarge A 2014 photo of John Cleese. - BRUCE BAKER/CC BY 2.0/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
A 2014 photo of John Cleese.
Bruce Baker/CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

John Cleese

Actor, writer, and comedian John Cleese is best known for being the co-founder of Monty Python, but don’t expect him to rattle off any routines from the legendary comedy troupe’s repertoire when he comes to the Orpheum Theater, 203 West Adams Street, on Friday, October 15. Instead, Cleese will perform his one-man show, Why There Is No Hope, which involves his “cynical and funny look at the dysfunctional world we live in.” Or as the 81-year-old performer told NPR in a 2020 interview, “I'm not saying there is no hope other than there is no hope in expecting that we'll ever have a reasonably intelligent, well-run society.” In other words, expect him to skewer the current state of things in his uniquely absurd British fashion. His show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $92 to $119.

Phoenix Fearcon X

Renowned character actor Bill Oberst Jr. – a star of such cult horror films as 3 From Hell, Werewolf Rising, Devil's Junction, and Scary or Die – will be one of the featured special guests at Phoenix Fearcon X on Friday, October 15, and Saturday, October 16, at Sun Studios of Arizona, 1425 West 14th Street in Tempe. He tops a guest list that includes actors like Day of the Dead’s Terry Alexander, Fred Williamson of From Dusk Till Dawn, and Reggie Bannister from the Phantasm series, as well as Troma Entertainment co-founder and director Lloyd Kaufman, and authors like Owl Goingback and Vincent Vena Cava. The con will also feature panels, Q&A sessions, horror film screenings, vendors, and zombies. (Oberst will also perform his off-Broadway solo piece Ray Bradbury's Pillar of Fire during the event. Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday. Tickets are $30 each day, $50 for the weekend, or $75 for VIP admission.

The Cybertronic Spree at The Rebel Lounge

This costumed hard rock band is aimed at fans of the old-school cartoon The Transformers and its 1986 big-screen adaptation. Its members are dressed in screen-accurate versions of the “robots in disguise” featured in the animated flick (including Hot Rod, Arcee, and Unicron) while performing spot-on covers of the rip-roaring hair metal songs from its soundtrack, such as NRG’s “Instruments of Destruction” and Spectre General's "Nothin's Gonna Stand in Our Way.” (They also do a fantastic version of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Dare to Be Stupid.”) Gimmicky? Absolutely, but it’s seriously geeky fun even if you aren’t an Autobot or Decepticon. They’ll transform The Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road, on Wednesday, October 20. The equally nerdy retrowave act Essenger opens the evening at 8 p.m. Admission is $18 to $20. 'Til all are one!

Otsukimi Moon Viewing Festival 2021

Set aside your pumpkins, candy, and costumes for an evening of Japanese culture during this traditional celebration of the first full moon of the fall. Taking place at the Japanese Friendship Garden, 1125 North Third Avenue, on Friday, October 22, and Saturday, October 23, the socially distanced event will involve artwork and displays, as well as lighting provided by candles and luminarias. Sake and snacks will be served. The celebrations run from 5 to 9 p.m. each evening. Admission is $25 for the general public and $7 for children ages 3 to 12.

Halloween Anime Fest

Anime fans who didn’t get their fill at last month’s Saboten Con can head for Collectors Marketplace, 1945 East Indian School Road, for this afternoon-long extravaganza on Saturday, October 23. A cosplay contest will be staged and offer prizes while a stage will host live performances and events. Various local geek creatives will also display and sell their works along an artist alley. Collectors Marketplace will also offer various sales throughout the event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s free to attend.
click to enlarge Scott Hoatsen (left) and Joseph Maudsley (right) of Potted Potter. - EVOLVE MARKETING
Scott Hoatsen (left) and Joseph Maudsley (right) of Potted Potter.
Evolve Marketing

Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience

Want to get into Harry Potter’s World of Wizarding? Congratulations, muggle, it’s only taken you more than two decades to finally partake in the fandom. In order to catch you up as quickly as possible, we recommend attending Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience, which takes over the Madison Center for the Arts, 5601 North 16th Street, from Thursday, October 28, to Saturday, October 30. The show condenses all seven books of the Harry Potter series into a 72-minute romp starring actors Scott Hoatsen and Joseph Maudsley, who provide an amusing recap of every single plot. Performances are at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $29 to $59.

Epic Toy Show Halloween Bash

There are officially less than two shopping months left until Christmas. Anyone who’d like to get a jump on getting there’s done can hit up this Halloween version of the Epic Toy Show on Saturday, October 30, at the El Zaribah Shrine Auditorium, 552 North 40th Street. Dozens of vendors will participate, selling a wide variety of classic and modern toys, games, and collectibles. Quality and quantity of items will vary, of course, though there are likely to be some rare gems to find. It being Halloween week, vendors will be giving out candy to trick or treaters and organizers will have a kids costume contest at 3 p.m. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early-bird admission is $8 until 10 a.m., the general public can get in from 10 a.m. onward for $3., and kids in costume are free from 1 to 4 p.m.

Ghoul Gallery

More than 20 local artists will participate in this one-night pop-up gallery inside the old Deer-O building at 2431 East Van Buren Street, on Saturday, October 30. The works on display will be of the odd, spooky, or bizarre variety and the lineup will include names like Derk Harkin, Brad Dwyer, Luster Kaboom, T.C. Fenwick, Angela Nimmo, Stephanie Wilkins, Mckenna Harron, and Cassie Stys. The short film Through The Eyes of a Ghost will also premiere at the event. Hours are from 5 to 10 p.m. Admission is free.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.