Director: Henry Selick

The DVD comes with old-school 3-D glasses, mimicking the theatrical effect, but this masterful children’s horror fantasy is so full of life and texture it doesn’t require any such frippery.

You don’t need things popping out of the screen to appreciate what director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and his stop-motion boffins have done with Neil Gaiman’s frightfully good story.

Coraline (pronounced Cora-LINE) presents a fully realized alternate world, just outside our own, that simultaneously enchants, terrifies and instructs —the lesson being contained in the tagline adage, “Be careful what you wish for.”

It’s the dark side of the Alice in Wonderland legend, the saga of a young girl (Dakota Fanning) who enters a cosmic portal to find a world both thrilling and challenging. Unlike the Lewis Carroll story, Gaiman’s midnight vision has evil spiders and rats, rather that benevolent rabbits and caterpillars.

The movie also owes a debt to Tim Burton, the visual whiz who produced The Nightmare Before Christmas, and whose earlier Beetlejuice is fondly recalled in the design of Coraline’s funky home, where most of the action takes place.

Depending on which of the multifarious DVD packages you purchase, extras include a director’s commentary, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, a “Creepy Coraline” featurette about the movie’s alternate worlds and a featurette about the cast behind the voices.

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