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Don Bluth's "All Dogs Go to Heaven" and the Disney Studio's "The Little Mermaid" are reminders that there is plenty of life in the art of animation. Together, these two animation-studio powerhouses have established a level of imagination and execution that's difficult for the competition to match.

Animators insist that kids can tell the difference between Saturday-morning schlock and the real thing. And the box office returns bear them out.Hanna-Barbera Productions, a company that is generally known for midline animation - somewhere between inept and the exalted plane occupied by Disney - recently announced plans to undertake a theatrical release of "The Flintstones." But the interesting news is that the company will do the Fred and Barney caveman comedy as a live-action, not animated, feature. "The Flintstones" made television prehistory by becoming the medium's longest-running animated series.

The truth is that it will probably be easier for Hanna-Barbera to do the comedy with real people. (Latest reports have "Roseanne's" John Goodman starring as Fred.) Animation at the Bluth-Disney level is getting staggeringly expensive.

While Disney never revealed an exact dollar figure, there is little doubt that "Tummy Trouble," the six-minute Roger Rabbit short released last summer in tandem with "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," was the most costly cartoon short ever made. There is also no doubt that Roger Rabbit's enormous popularity had a lot to do with the success of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" - an anemic family comedy that became one of the surprise hits of the season. (Its gross, to date, is more than $130 million.)

One canny player in Hollywood has taken note. When Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy" (another comic-strip-to-film venture) arrives next June, it will carry a rabbit-tested insurance policy. One of the major releases of the 1990 summer season, the movie will be accompanied by a new Toontown offering: "Rollercoaster Rabbit." The short, which hurls Roger and Baby Herman around a carnival, is the next in a planned series that will keep Roger before his adoring fans until the arrival of the sequel to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

(BU) IF THERE IS a gratifying development to be found in the horror end of the movie business, it is that serial killers are dropping like flies at the box office. The most recent installments in the ongoing "Friday the 13th," "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Halloween" series were all box-office disappointments. It seems that boredom, if not taste, is setting in with horror fans.

With the new decade looming, everyone has a survey of the '80s in movies. An interesting one has just been released by Baseline, an entertainment-industry information service.

The top 10 horror movies of the past 10 years at the box office were, in order: "Aliens," "Poltergeist," "Pet Sematary," "Nightmare on Elm Street IV," "Nightmare on Elm Street III," "The Shining," "Friday the 13th," "Friday the 13th III," "The Fly" and "Psycho II."

(BU) THE EARTH HAD hardly stopped rocking in San Francisco after the recent earthquake when the disaster's dramatic possibilities piqued interest 400 miles to the south. The first Hollywood filmmaker out of the gate with a project is Roger Corman with "Quake!" - a $12 million feature on the calamity.

Corman, a producer-director notorious for stretching every dollar in his budget, won't begin filming until March. But he dispatched crews to get footage of the collapsed bridges, freeways and other debris.