This supernatural series was cocreated by director Wes Craven, who has overseen numerous horror movies, including the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Nightmare Cafe doesn’t have any of the graphic shocks of Craven’s feature films; instead, it has a tediously complicated premise: The Nightmare Cafe is a sort of limbo luncheonette staffed by three ghosts, played by Dynasty’s Jack Coleman, Mancuso FBI’s Lindsay Frost, and Robert Englund — the evil Freddy Krueger of the Elm Street movies.
Customers who walk into the Nightmare Cafe have problems that the café crew tries to help solve. In this week’s episode, for example, Coleman’s character tries to protect a woman, played by Beth Toussaint, whose husband is abusing her; the lout is also involved with a few murders. Featuring dialogue like ”You’re a dangerous combination of shy and direct,” the episode is a trite melodrama made unbearably coy by the fact that Frost and Englund’s characters watch everything Coleman is doing on the cafe’s magic TV set, and make arch comments on the action.
In addition to that Peeping Tom TV, every door in the cafe leads not out onto the street but into a different scene in the week’s episode — the coffee-shop setting, rife with cheesy special effects, is the real star of the show. Englund in particular is wasted in this series; he can be an amusing, inventive actor, but here he’s required only to smirk smugly and literally wink at the camera. Nightmare Cafe is certainly different: Lots of TV shows are dull and/or stupid — this series is dull, stupid, and really annoying. D-