Though The Nightmare Before Christmas was universally acclaimed for its seemingly kid-friendly stop-motion animation, parents of the youngest tots should be duly warned. The expressionistic world created by producer/production designer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick may be full of jaw-dropping invention, but it also includes scenes of Santa Claus being tortured on a rack, and a confused child pulling a severed head from his stocking (rendered about as mildly as such a thing can be). What excuses these almost PG-13 images is that tongues are firmly planted in cheek, and everything is placed aright by the end, no serious damage done. Throw in Danny Elfman's lovely score, and the children may be too caught up to ask, "Mommy, why is that Jack Skellington man behaving that way?" The Nightmare Before Christmas was both one of the most imaginative and technologically sophisticated creations that had ever been seen at the time of its release. In a stroke of marketing genius, the film works as both a Halloween and a Christmas movie, combining Burton's fondness for the spooky by-products of the former with the latter's ability to ascribe classic status, which the film capitalizes on. Halloweentown is like a haunted thrill ride for the eyes, popping with trademark Burton twists and gnarls that also possess an underlying sweetness: Just look at the expressiveness of Jack's skeletal eyes. So what if he's a bit of a prankster? That just feeds Burton's and Selick's ghoulish sensibilities, without which this would not be such a subversive "family classic" that should amaze all ages, if for different reasons.