During the holiday season, TV networks unload a whole bunch of Christmas movies and specials on viewers. From standbys like “It’s a Wonderful Life” to stop-motion classics like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” the month of December is filled with festive and jolly stories.
For some unknown reason, movies with little reference to Christmas — oh hey there, ABC Family’s airing of “The Little Mermaid” during its 25 Days of Christmas event — and films with tons of murder, deceit and loud noises have somehow become holiday staples. Go figure.
In an effort to figure out why movies like “L.A. Confidential” are able to make the Christmas list, here’s a list of the Top 10 Not-Christmas Christmas movies (in order of “I guess it kind of works” to “Santa would hate this”) you’re likely to see on the air in December:
Tenuous holiday connection: It takes places between Christmas Eve 1989 and Christmas Eve 1990.
Humbug factor: It’s more about a group of friends trying to figure out life and paying their rent than about Christmas time.
9. ‘Trading Places’
Tenuous holiday connection: It’s set during the holiday season, and one scene takes place during a Christmas party.
Humbug factor: Two millionaires set out to switch the lives of two men: a businessman and street hustler. But there’s really no big connection to the holidays.
8. ‘Edward Scissorhands’
Tenuous holiday connection: The film came out in December, and there’s lots of snow in it.
Humbug factor: It’s a seriously dark fantasy film about an artificial human who has scissors for hands and is aching for human connection.
7. ‘Batman Returns’
Tenuous holiday connection: It’s Christmas time in Gotham City!
Humbug factor: Well, the film starts with parents throwing their deformed infant into the sewers, so that’s jolly, right?
Tenuous holiday connection: It takes place on Christmas Eve.
Humbug factor: Um, there are terrorists holding hostages, a bloody Bruce Willis and just a touch of cocaine. All the playing of “Christmas in Hollis” in the world doesn’t make this a Yuletide movie.
5. ‘Die Hard 2’
Tenuous holiday connection: This one also takes place on Christmas Eve.
Humbug factor: Surprise, this one also has terrorists holding hostages. At least it’s snowy this time?
4. ‘L.A. Confidential’
Tenuous holiday connection: The movie’s opening scenes take place on Christmas Eve.
Humbug factor: It’s all about police corruption and the dark underbelly of 1940s Los Angeles. Whacking mobsters in a secret hotel room is not jolly.
3. ‘Reindeer Games’
Tenuous holiday connection: The film was supposed to hit theaters around Christmas time — it eventually opened in February — and, at one point, the main characters dress up like Santa.
Humbug factor: It’s a thriller about an inmate who assumes the identity of his dead cellmate and then gets involved in a casino heist. Merry Christmas!
Holiday airdate: Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m. ET/PT on AMC.
Tenuous holiday connection: Billy gets his new pet, Gizmo, as an early Christmas present.
Humbug factor: The Gremlins are evil, they have really scary teeth and, at one point, they attack Santa.
1. ‘Lethal Weapon’
Tenuous holiday connection: It takes place during the holiday season, and the final scene takes place on Christmas day. Also, “Jingle Bell Rock” is playing in the opening scene.
Humbug factor: Too bad that scene with “Jingle Bell Rock” shows a woman falling to her death. Can’t you feel the Christmas spirit all around you?
Holiday airdate: Dec. 5 at 7:45 a.m. on IFC.