A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is where things started to get really cheesy for Freddy. Still written by Craven but now directed by Chuck Russell this film is caught in the eighties, every death accompanied by a one liner and the horror feels somewhat diluted as the film lurches towards fantasy.
In Dream Warriors Nancy returns to find Freddy working his magic on some disturbed teens in a mental institution. They have been experiencing what the doctor´s think is a group delusion and each is suffering with sleeping disorders. In fact they have all been dreaming about Freddy and don´t want to sleep because he will kill them.
The newest addition to the group is Kirsten (an early appearance for Patricia Arquette). She joins the cliched band of failed chubby actress, geeky wheelchair guy, token black kid, smart mouthed arty type and ex-drug addict, oh and there´s a guy who can´t talk as well. They each dream of Kreuger and since Nancy is their dream psychologist they are able to figure out what is happening and try to fight Freddy.
The dream sequences are quite fun but the gore and effects are right over the top and the cheesy hero versions of each of them when they try to stand up to Freddy are cringingly silly. The kids are picked off one by one as the formula dictates while Nancy investigates Kreuger and we are given more depraved history about the bastard son of a thousand maniacs.
Robert Englund is very good at playing Freddy and he doesn´t disappoint here, retaining the vicious streak which makes Freddy threatening and prevents him from descending completely into cartoon character. Heather Langenkamp playing Nancy also gives proceedings some kind of gravity and Laurence Fishburne pops up and does a good job as the guard Max. The rest of the acting is really pretty bad and best forgotten.
The ideas for some of the deaths are quite chilling, the appearance of Freddy on television before the girl´s head is put through the TV is nicely done. The idea of being Freddy´s puppet with your veins as the strings is also a nasty one but the execution is not so great. The direction is mediocre and some of the effects look very dated now. It just seems a little too glossy and lightweight at times with dream sequences in garish theme park looking sets.
Nightmare 2 tried to change the original idea somewhat and still play as a serious horror which was meant to be scary. It didn´t really work but this switch to fantasy goofy horror doesn´t really come off either. It is very easy to watch, the special effects sequences are certainly ambitious and there are some great Freddy moments but the feel of the original is almost completely lost and this film is already starting to feel like parody.
When I was too young to be allowed to watch this film I loved it but now I´m older I don´t. It´s like a horror film for kids set to a strict formula and lacking anything genuinely scary. It´s fun and diverting and the series actually gets even worse after this but still not fit to lick the boots of the original film.