The Last Days Of Coney Island is a series of animated shortsnote directed by animation legend Ralph Bakshi.
After doing the cult classic animated series Spicy City, veteran animator and director Ralph Bakshi left the animation field. Since then, he has been considered as an inspiration to animators and his colleagues. Out of the blue he had a massive impact from people when his films (such as Fritz the Cat, The Lord of the Rings, and Wizards) got reintroduced for people to see. It then led Ralph to come out of retirement to create another animated feature; The Last Days Of Coney Island.
After being rejected by various animation studios (such as DreamWorks Animation and Pixar) Ralph decided to do the film independently. In 2008, he stated that “something was wrong with the whole fucking thing” and put the project on hold, where it remained in Development Hell for a while. In early 2013, Bakshi started a Kickstarter campaign to obtain funding for the film. On March 2 of that year, it reached its goal. It wrapped up animation work in mid 2015, finished post-production work on October 2, and it was released on Vimeo on the 29th - just in time for Bakshi's 77th birthday. A year later he released the film onto his Youtube channel as well. See it here!
- Animated Anthology: Was produced as a series of shorts that, when completed, was compiled into a 20 minute feature.
- Ax-Crazy: Shorty. He brutally killed his mother (a fortune teller) as a kid, solely because he caught her having sex with a clown.
- Bad Boss: Shorty once he becomes the owner of Coney Island as an adult. He charges the local freaks to live there, and he even kills one of them for refusing to pay up (although being a clown, something Shorty hates, sure didn't help his case).
- Berserk Button: Shortly hates clowns. He killed his mother because he caught her having sex with a clown (and killed the clown right along with her), killed another clown as an adult for refusing to pay him in exchange for living at Coney Island, and killed Molly because he misinterprets her affection towards Max instead of him as meaning that she thinks he is a clown.
- Big "OMG!": Max has this reaction at Molly getting arrested, since it was basically his fault.
- Big Rotten Apple: The film is set in 1960's Coney Island, Brooklyn, and it is not a pleasant place to live.
- Brick Joke: In the opening, establishing the political climate of the 1960's, we are treated to a clip of John F. Kennedy's assassination played three times in a row. In the ending, when Shorty is interrogated for Molly's murder, he quips "Lee Harvey Oswald did it." and it cuts to the film of Jack Ruby assassinating Lee Harvey Oswald.
- Cassandra Truth: When Max is arrested and interrogated by the other cops as a suspect in Molly's murder, he insists that he didn't do it, and only keeps getting pummeled by the other cops in turn.
- Darker and Edgier: This is easily the darkest of all of Ralph's films, which is saying a lot.
- Deranged Animation: The animation is deliberately done in a very loose, choppy style, often with no inbetweens or extremes, combined with a lot of deranged, abstract drawings. The scene where Shorty flies off the handle and murders his mom is just one standout of this.
- Dirty Cop: The character Max falls into this. He sells out a local bar he visits so the cops can raid it, all for the possibility of getting a raise and promotion. This unwittingly ends up getting his girlfriend who works there, Molly, arrested and thrown in jail (a friend was supposed to get her out of there before the raid, but didn't in time).
- The Dreaded: After Molly's arrest, Max is reduced to a nervous wreck who frequents another local bar, and around this time, he becomes the target of Shorty, who now runs Coney Island as an adult. Max is so terrified of Shorty going after him, that he has to be forced to leave the bar.
- Downer Ending: Max's girlfriend Molly is released from jail, but she ends up getting murdered by Shorty, and Max has the crime pinned on him.
- Gainax Ending: However, it turns out Shorty is investigated as a suspect for the murder. When grilled, his final reply is "Lee Harvey Oswald did it." Cue slowed down clip of Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination by Jack Ruby.
- Gonk: All of the characters are designed like this to fit the film's atmosphere, but the Coney Island freaks especially stand out.
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: There are no real heroes or villains in this story, just a bunch of messed up, dysfunctional people living in New York in the sixties. Shorty is obviously the worst of them, but the other people the film is centered around, including Max and Molly, are no saints either.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Shorty initially met Molly, Max's girlfriend, when they were both children at Coney Island, and he took affection to her. When Max runs off on Molly in despair, Shorty misinterprets Molly still loving Max as meaning she thinks Shorty is a clown, and he murders her at gunpoint.
- Hope Spot: Just when Max is forced outside the bar in fear of getting killed by Shorty, Molly shows up and reunites with him. But by that point, Max is so wrecked from the five years inbetween, that he feels it's too late to go back, and has a nervous breakdown and crawls off in despair. And then Shorty shows up and kills Molly.
- Just Got Out of Jail: Molly shows up to Max just near the end to reunite with him, after spending five years in jail.
- Medium Blending: The film uses hand-drawn animation mixed with clips of live action footage, and even a three-dimensional set of the town midway through the film.
- Revisiting the Roots: Ralph made the film as something of a homage to his 15 years of experience working at the Terry Toons cartoon studio and working alongside many of the Golden Age cartoon animators, while mashing it up with his own experiences of living in New York at the time.
- R-Rated Opening: Just in case you needed a hint that this cartoon is not fun escapist entertainment, it opens up with very dark, grisly scenery and a clip of JFK's assasination being played three times in a row, which also makes it clear that it does not intend to show a rose tinted view of the 1960's. And if that isn't enough of a hint, one of the first things you see a character in the film do is brutally murder his mother on screen for having sex with a clown.
- Scenery Gorn: Coney Island looks very run down and gritty throughout the film.
- Self-Made Orphan: Shorty becomes this in the opening, since he murdered his mother in a fit of rage over sleeping with a clown.
- Shown Their Work: Ralph Bakshi has released videos through Vimeo. Having different artists explain as well as showing the methods of the production behind the film.
- Sliding Scale of Animation Elaborateness: The movie is rather vague about which end of the scale it falls on. Some parts have full animation, while a lot of the film has very choppy, un-inbetweened animation to support its grisly, rough tone.
- Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: The movie is on the Horror Dominant end. A lot of the stuff going on in the film is very grisly and tragic, but has some bits of comedy to offset it.
- Sliding Scale of Endings: The film either has a Downer Ending or a Gainax Ending.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The film lands right on the Cynical end of the scale. Ralph made it very clear in his Kickstarter promo that it was not intended to be a fun escapist cartoon.
- Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: Falls onto the Less Plot Than Characters part of the scale.
- Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Varies between surreal and realistic. That is, the situations are realistic and are based on grisly real life events Ralph witnessed while growing up in New York City in the sixties, but the presentation of said events, while brutally honest, is a surreal cartoon caricature of said events.
- Start of Darkness: Shorty starts off as a fairly nice kid living at Coney Island from what glimpses we see of his childhood. And then we see him fly off the handle and kill his mom for sleeping with a clown. Then he takes over Coney Island as an adult and charges the freaks just to live there, even killing a clown in front of the others for refusing to pay up."My mother doesn't love me anymore..."
- Stylistic Suck: Ralph deliberately animated many shots in a very choppy way, with no inbetweening or even extremes, to match the extremely gritty, run down setting and tone of the film. The drawings aren't even inked—Ralph left the rough drawings intact while still digitally colorizing them so the film could keep their original energy and vitality.
- Time Skip: The film starts with Shorty as a child (with an occasional flashback to his childhood) and then shifts to somewhere in the 1960's. After the cops raid the bar and Molly is arrested, the film then skips to where Max is five years later.
- Unstoppable Rage: When Shorty finds his mother having sex with a clown, he goes ballistic, grabs an ax and brutally slaughters both of them until they're reduced to nothing but chunks of flesh and organs flying everywhere.
- Visual Pun: Most of the cops are drawn as cartoon pigs.