Of course, today what makes the (roundly despised) sequel infamous is its troubling subtext, which appears to use Freddy - who is, remember, a sicko child-killer - as a metaphor for homosexuality. The lead character is uneasy around his ostensible girlfriend, dances flamboyantly (and secretly) in his room, confides his worries in a strapping pal from gym class and draws the attention of a coach who frequents a local Leather Bar. His transformations into Freddy are mostly timed to instances of sexual frustration, and twice occur in situations that would appear to place him in compromising positions with male victims - as though Freddy is the manifestation of a gay side from which he must ultimately be saved by his girlfriend. Yikes.
Whether it was the creepy homophobia or just the bad filmmaking, fans hated the result, and while the series went on, Freddy's Revenge was immediately scrubbed from continuity.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
#3 pretends that #2 didn't happen, and that's not the only way in which it's something of a paradox: While it's unquestionably the film that "saved" the franchise, it ultimately sowed the seeds that would soon make it impossible for the series to even be taken seriously again.
Her offscreen "death" from Part 2 erased, Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy - now a doctor specializing in dream psychology "protected" from Freddy by a dream-skipping medication called Hypnocil (which will be important later) - insinuates herself into a mental hospital to help a group of troubled teens who're having sleep trouble of the razor-fingered variety. Upon discovering that one of the kids possesses psychic abilities, the group forms a plan to enter Freddy's realm on their own terms - using the superpowers (really) of their idealized fantasy-selves to defeat him once and for all. There's also intrigue involving a spectral Nun who holds information about Freddy's past as "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs," and a hunt for the whereabouts of Freddy's remains. (It's here that Freddy starts to become "overpowered," with a new wrinkle about needing to rebury him in Holy Ground making him seem more like a vampire or demon than mere vengeful ghost.)
This is also the one where Freddy becomes the broader caricature he's today better known as, tossing out ironic jokes at the climax of each murder, but Englund still manages to make the role function. The rest of the film is the same way: Everything about it from the screaming Dokken theme song to the kids' using dreamed-up powers (including D&D-style wizardry, martial arts and super strength) to Freddy's kills now being elaborate special effects showpieces should suck and indeed sucked in the later sequels, but it all kind of works here.
Freddy's Nightmares (1988, TV Series)
In the 80s and early 90s, anthology TV shows came back in a big way, mostly for horror. Nightmares attempted to capitalize on this, with Freddy as the host, introducing the individual stories. He also starred in a couple, but the only important one was the series' pilot "No More Mr. Nice Guy," which belatedly gave us an onscreen depiction of Freddy's pre-Nightmare origin story. For completionists only.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Dream Warriors was intended to - and should've been - the climax of the series, but it was too big a hit and so we got this uninspired follow-up in the now-standard formula: Elaborate FX sequence deaths punctuated by so-bad-its-bad standup comedy from Freddy.
Anyway, Freddy returns to polish off the survivors of Warriors, the sticks around to battle Alice - aka "Replacement Nancy" - who becomes a kind of anti-Freddy superheroine by absorbing the special abilities of his victims. This leads to one of the all-time great gore scenes of the series - Freddy is torn apart by the souls housed in his own body - but it's a long, dull slog to get there.