Two summers ago, influential filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Entertainment, spent some time in Niagara Falls with groups of mutated creatures to film “Return to Nuke ’Em High.”

He shot so much footage that the film, a revisiting of his cult classic “Class of Nuke ’Em High,” has now been split into two parts, the first of which will have a “sneak preview” at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival.

“Return to Nuke ’Em High Vol. 1” is just one of a large slate of 85 films being shown at the festival, running Friday through next Thursday in the Dipson Amherst Theatre (3500 Main St.). An offshoot of sorts from the former Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival, Buffalo Dreams goes beyond horror by programming a variety of film styles, said co-founder Gregory Lamberson.

“Instead of just horror, it’s sci-fi, it’s action – which encompasses all sorts of things including Westerns. It’s animation, which we want to see grow because of the animation houses opening in this area; and it’s local films, which we are willing to go beyond those genres to bring in as much local talent as we can,” said Lamberson, a local author and filmmaker.

One case is “Buffalo Boys,” a drama with some crime elements. “It doesn’t necessarily fit into any of the genres, but it’s a great example of local filmmaking,” Lamberson said.

Lamberson said it also was important for Buffalo Dreams to showcase international films and welcome as many filmmakers and actors as possible to Buffalo. He’s happy with the progress in both of those areas. There are 27 international films from as far away as Austria, South Korea, Norway and Israel being shown. About 60 were submitted for consideration. At least 24 guests are attending for question-and-answer sessions, including Kaufman, and that number may hit 30 by the time the festival is done.

Kaufman insisted that the screening of his film, at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, benefit the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center in Niagara Falls, the headquarters and base for the film when it was shot here. He will receive the festival’s Dedication to Filmmaking Excellence Award on Sunday.

“He really is on a plane with Roger Corman. When you use the word icon, it’s not out of place,” Lamberson said about Kaufman who has been an influence on such filmmakers as Peter Jackson and Quentin Tarantino.

Lamberson said he’s thrilled Kaufman is allowing Buffalo Dreams to be a launching point for the movie. “A film like that has instant recognition. It’s a great way for us to pull people in and get them to notice other films in the festival.”

The festival’s Indie Genre Spirit Award will be presented in absentia to director Albert Pyun, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is too ill to attend. His film “Road to Hell,” a rock ’n’ roll sci-fi homage to Walter Hill’s “Streets of Fire,” will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We’re honoring Albert because he represents what this award stands for,” Lamberson said. “No matter what studio interference and budgetary challenges he’s faced, he’s continued to build a body of work in multiple genres.”

Films will be shown in a “block” of programming, such as one short film and one feature film; two shorts and one feature; three shorts and one feature; or a collection of shorts. Movies begin at 1 p.m. Friday through Sunday; then at 2 or 2:30 p.m. daily starting Monday. The full schedule with guests is available at

Here are a few highlights:

3:30 p.m. Saturday. For “Animosity,” executive producer Roy Frumkes, writer/director Brendan Steere and star Tracy Willet will give a Q&A on what is being called “the most intense film of the fest.” Newlyweds move into a house surrounded by a forest with supernatural powers.

• 6:30 p.m. Saturday: Join Canadian cult writer/director Brett Kelly for his comedy horror musical “My Fair Zombie.”

• 3 p.m. Sunday: A local showcase has four shorts (“Kiva,” “Undead Playground,” “Rhythm” and “Wormchild 2: Fresh Flesh”) and a feature film with Christian themes, “Constant Angel.”

• 5:30 p.m. Sunday: The Dreamer Awards Presentation honors local films in several categories including Best Western New York Feature, Short Film, Student Film, Screenwriter, Director, Actor, Actress and Special Make-Up Effects Artist.

• 7:25 p.m. Sunday: Director Simon Pearce travels in from the UK for a Q&A and screening of his film “Judas Ghost.”

• 2:30 p.m. Monday: The Buffalo-made true story “Buffalo Boys” includes a Q&A with director Raymond Guarnieri and co-producer Joel Resnikoff.

• 9:30 p.m. Tuesday: The zombie film “Survive the Night” includes a Q&A with writer/director Ryan M. Andrews.

• 9:20 Thursday: The festival closes with the supernatural thriller “The Squad (Zveno)” from the Russian Federation.


What: Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival

When: Friday through next Thursday

Where: Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.

Tickets: $8 individual blocks; $20-$25 daylong passes