As the 1940s were the decade of Christmas movies, the 1960s brought a slew of holiday cartoons. Some were more than fine — Charles M. Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas — but others were distinguished neither in their storytelling nor in their animation style. The most reliable purveyors of mediocrity were Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass. They began with Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 1964, a wan fable whose only redeeming aspect was a decent sheaf of songs by Rudolph creator Johnny Marks. Over the next four decades, Rankin and Bass perpetrated nearly a score of Christmas not-so-specials that brought virtually every pop-song holiday icon to stilted life, from Frosty to the Little Drummer Boy, bottoming out with their final production, Santa Baby!, in 2001. To those of middle age who remember Frosty fondly, we offer this warning: Look again, and yawn.
Top 10 Worst Christmas Movies
There's a thin line between a heartwarming holiday movie and a heartrendingly bad Christmas film. TIME's Richard Corliss sets his sights on the latter.