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Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas

By Nancy Churnin / The Dallas Morning News

Halloween just got better with the big-screen release of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

A surprise hit in 1993, Nightmare's stop-motion tale of Jack Skellington, the skeletal head of Halloweentown, has become a well-deserved classic.

No one is better at frights than Jack, but he's tired of easy screams. Then he finds and falls in love with Christmastown and talks Halloweentown into taking it over.

But Halloweentown's take on Christmas is a little, well, off. Well-meaning Jack rethinks Santa's sleigh as a coffin while his helpers "improve things" by adding skulls to garlands and teeth to jack-in-the-boxes that chase the kids, screaming, upstairs.

Even though Nightmare was just released on DVD, the glory of the details should be seen on the big screen. From the magical direction by Henry Selick that conjures this world, to the mournful musical score by Danny Elfman (who sings for Jack), and the sly humor throughout, this is a timeless, operatic tale of the surprising twists life can take in the journey of self-discovery.

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