It seems a long time ago, but it hasn't been two months yet since Buffalonians were celebrating Guillermo del Toro and Bradley Cooper here for the filming of "Nightmare Alley," while simultaneously anxiously awaiting the premiere of "A Quiet Place Part II."
While those films may be on hold, we can still celebrate filmmaking in the Buffalo area by watching the surprising number of locally made films we can watch on our TV right now and usually for free. Most of these films were quietly made here over the past five years, with the "oldest" being "Henry's Crime" which was released in 2010.
As a bonus, you can play the games of "spot the location" and even "spot yourself and your friends" if you were in the movie.
“All at Once” (formerly “Two for One”): The first of two Buffalo-made films from actor and director Jon Abrahams is this heartfelt post-9/11 drama about a young artist who becomes guardian to the daughters of his two best friends who died in the World Trade Center. A decade later, he’s forced to return to his Buffalo hometown. Annie Potts and Erika Christensen co-star. Filmed here in 2015, locations include Buffalo State College, Marco's Italian Restaurant (as Sly's Pizza), Guercio’s, Burchfield Penney, GCR Studios and throughout Allentown. Watch it: Amazon Prime.
“Battledogs”: If I had to pick one film where Buffalo had a true starring role it would be this 2013 sci-fi horror film about a lupine virus. Sure, that sounds odd considering the big productions that have been here, but you’ll recognize most of the locations from start to finish as Buffalo stands in for New York City. Niagara Falls International Airport plays JFK and the Central Terminal becomes the Emergency Military Quarantine Center on Wards Island, N.Y. You’ll also recognize a lot of the driving shots around downtown on I-190, a lengthy chase along the waterfront and down the Buffalo River by the grain elevators and industrial sites. Watch for the stunts at the Erie Basin Marina's Observation Tower. Watch it: Amazon Prime.
“Christmas in Vermont”: We stood in for Vermont in this holiday film about a business executive sent to shut down a small-town factory at Christmas. It aired on ION Television in November of 2016 and is one of the holiday films shot locally by director Fred Olen Ray. Locations include the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo History Museum, Roycroft Inn in East Aurora and Holiday Valley in Ellicottville. Watch it: Amazon Prime. (The film also returns to television during the holidays.)
“Clover”: Two brothers go on the run to protect a teenager who witnessed a murder in this second locally made film by Jon Abrahams. Also starring Erika Christensen, Mark Webber, Chazz Palminteri and Ron Perlman. Filmed here in November 2017 at Silo City, Voelker's bowling alley, the Croatian Club, Elmwood Avenue and Amherst Street. Watch it: Now available On Demand
“Cold Brook”: Buffalo's favorite native son, William Fichtner, spent the summer of 2017 here filming this charmer which he directed, stars in, produced and co-wrote with Cain DeVoire. Fichtner and his real life good friend actor Kim Coates play two neighbors and college maintenance workers who gain notoriety after stopping a perceived robbery at a museum only to learn things are not what they seem. Locations include the Buffalo History Museum, Buffalo State, Colonel Ward Pumping Station and East Aurora. Watch it: Showtime and AppleTV.
“Crossbreed”: A small band of mercenaries are sent by the president (Vivica A. Fox) to retrieve an alien life form in this futuristic sci-fi thriller directed by Brandon Slagle. Daniel Baldwin co-stars. Multiple locations were used at City Hall where the art deco architecture works surprisingly well with the sci-fi backdrop. Other locations include the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, Club Marcella and North Tonawanda. Watch it: Amazon Prime.
“Crown Vic”: A rookie police officer and a jaded veteran (Thomas Jane) hunt a cop killer during one intense night in this drama written and directed by Joel Souza. Filmed here in the summer of 2018, locations include Milo’s Diner and various streets in downtown Buffalo including Pearl Street. In its review, Variety said: “… given how believable it all takes place in Los Angeles, you may be amazed to learn that the film was actually shot in Buffalo, NY.” Watch it: On Demand.
“Dwelling”: Kyle Mecca is one of names you’ll often see in the credits of many Hollywood films shot in Buffalo and he’s a director, too. He made this well-received horror film when he was only 24, based off stories his grandfather told him. Locations included the former Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital, UB North Campus, Clarence and Lancaster. Watch it: Amazon Prime; also via Vudu, iTunes and Google Play.
“Deadly Shores”: A new bride moves to a remote island with her mystery writer husband, who may have a few secrets in this thriller directed by Fred Olen Ray. Locations include Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse in Barker, Bemus Point, Lewiston and Buffalo. Premiered in August 2018 on Lifetime Movie Network. Watch it: Lifetime Movie Club.
“Fiance Killer”: Another film from Fred Olen Ray, this thriller is about a mother (Kari Wuhrer) who has doubts about her daughter’s new boyfriend. Shot in Buffalo, North Tonawanda, Blasdell, Eden and Derby. Premiered April 2018 on the Lifetime Movie Network. Watch it: Lifetime Movie Network.
“The First Purge”: Buffalo stood in for Staten Island in this fourth film that acted as a prequel in the horror franchise where all crime is legal for 12 hours. Filmed entirely in Buffalo in the fall of 2017, you’ll see the Sinclair apartments on Washington Street and familiar sights in street scenes such as Grant and Perry. Watch it: Cinemax.
“Henry’s Crime”: Location scouts had a specific look in mind in using Buffalo for this offbeat Keanu Reeves film. The Buffalo locations are grim and downtrodden with boarded-up buildings and shuttered industrial sights giving the film a look much like its down-on-its luck main character. The lengthy opening has Reeves driving home from work in a bleak landscape near the grain elevators, along Seneca and Exchange streets and downtown. Buffalo Savings Bank has a key role. The lovely theater, coffee shop and other locations were filmed in Tarrytown, which stood in for Buffalo. Watch it: Amazon Prime.
“Johnny Gruesome”: Local author and filmmaker Greg Lamberson adapted his horror novel about a murdered high school student who returns from the grave for vengeance. Shot in Lancaster, Cheektowaga, Buffalo and Akron. Watch it: Amazon Prime. (Lamberson's other Buffalo-made films "Slime City Massacre," "Dry Bones" and Killer Rack" are on home video.)
“Marshall”: The Thurgood Marshall biopic starring Chadwick Boseman and Kate Hudson made its Buffalo debut at the Buffalo International Film Festival. Locations include City Hall, the Central Terminal and Eugene Tenney Law Office. Watch it: Amazon Prime.
“Ombis: Alien Invasion”: This 2013 sci-fi thriller is one of at least five Buffalo-made films you can stream on Amazon Prime from Buffalo filmmaker Adam R. Steigert (just search his name on Amazon Prime). It was made in Angola with a major scene that shut down Main Street and in Cheektowaga Town Hall.
“A Prince for Christmas”: A prince traveling solo finds himself enamored with small-town U.S.A. in this film that took advantage of East Aurora's charm. The European castle in the film used the exterior of the Park Country Club and the interior of Knox Estate. Other locations included sledding in Elma Meadows, train shots in Arcade & Attica Depot, a bar scene in Riley Street Station plus Old Orchard Inn, Colden Country Kitchen and the former Firefly Cupcake. Watch it: Pluto and Tubi. The film also returns to television during the holidays.
“Stage Fright” (formerly “Curtains”): Jordan Ladd stars in a thriller from director Fred Olen Ray that premiered on Lifetime Movie Network in 2017. Locations include Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant, the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda, the Lockport Cave, the Barton Mansion in Lewiston and the Colonel Ward Pumping Station. Watch it: Lifetime Movie Club
“2307: Winter’s Dream”: This post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller found the perfect place for its frozen setting when it filmed here during the polar vortex of 2015 on frozen landscapes of local beaches and other spots around Buffalo, Angola and Hamburg. Watch it: Rent and purchase on various streaming platforms.