Sunday, January 18, 2015

Flask of Eyes Characterization #1: Franklin Beacon and Edward Hyde

Hi, folks--Felt compelled to offer another "Flask of Eyes" reflection, if only based on a few, recent passing inquiries. It seems appropriate, in this regard, to address such in a post, as opposed to an attached reply to a previous one (such as "Flask of Eyes Fun"--Dec '14, in which a loyal reader made an astute connection between one of my characters and an iconic, literary/film fiend).

In any event, the matter in question is: which classic monster truly inspired Franklin Beacon, the character around whom "Flask" revolves?

I'm flattered by the interest, but must express some concern over what I feel is an overlooking-the-obvious. Still, what's clear to me (and die-hard monster fans) may not be those with a casual interest in the macabre. So, therefore, allow me to indulge...

In truth, an insinuation of Beacon's origin can be found in "Monster on the Campus", the poster of which is displayed in his apartment. "Monster" is, after all, a man-into-ape-man movie, like "Neanderthal Man", which came shortly before it, and like "Altered States" which came a couple decades after it (and in its own right had a significant impact on "Flask'"s psychedelia). Also, the seeds of this character type can be found in "The Ape Man", the beloved 1943 B-movie, starring Bela Lugosi: a film I watched often as a child.

Beacon's anthropoid link, however, hinges mostly on a pop-cultural, Robert Louis Stevenson character: Mr. Edward Hyde, particularly the MGM Rouben Mamoulian 1931 adaptation. In that rendition, Hyde, as portrayed by Frederic March, becomes more ape-like with each transformation, so that by the film's end, he is essentially a simian in a suit. (A similar technique was employed in John Carl Buechler's modernized remake, starring Tony Todd, and a trace of the concept permeates "Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", starring Boris Karloff.)

The duality idea in classic Jekyll/Hyde pits one side against the other. My take differs, in that the hindered Beacon and his transformed self are never at odds. If anything, the personalities are in tune, melding into what might be a sustained, harmonious union, if not for the harried circumstances that surface.

Any questions/thoughts? Feel free to share; I'll be happy to reply/discuss.

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