Sunday, April 5, 2015

Flask of Eyes Characterization #3: Bernard Underling Meets Dracula

Another of my "Flask of Eyes" characters is also based on a famous fiend, and in my story, he stands as an adopted brother to Benjamin, the Frankenstein Monster variant. His name is Bernard Underling, and he's a homage to vampires in general, but mainly, Count Dracula.

I can't deny that Bela Lugosi left quite an impression on me as a kid, and his iconic Count (along with his portrayals in "Mark of the Vampire" and "Return of the Vampire") prevails whenever I think of vampires. Bernard is definitely part of the Lugosi's lineage. 

Christopher Lee figures in there, too, and there's a point in "Flask" where the latter is referenced. Of course, there are many others who also influenced Bernard's Drac persona, including John Carradine, Francis Lederer, Jack Palance, Louis Jordan, Frank Langella...

Like Benjamin, Bernard enters the tale in disguise, equipped with fake flesh, invoking a tall, regal figure, but beneath the surface, he's essentially a man-bat. In fact, appearance-wise, he rather resembles the famous Batman foe, Man-bat, equipped with imposing wings, at least once he dares let them spring: for all intents and purposes, a winged demon or quasi-gargoyle type. 

In essence, Benjamin very much plays upon the the shape-shifting image that Bram Stoker popularized and which has continued in the many books and movies over the decades.  

On this basis, a number of Drac/man-bat actors (and their unnerving designs) have determined Bernard's actual structure, including Bradford Dillman in "Bat People"; Gary Oldman in "Bram Stoker's Dracula '92"; Greg Wise in "House of Frankenstein '97". 

To stir things up, I also made Bernard guilt-ridden. In this regard, he holds a puritanical strand, and for him, drinking blood is sinful, especially when it leads him to kill. Gosh, now that I think of it, I may have injected an element of Michael Nouri's Count into him: remember "Curse of Dracula" from the "Cliffhangers" series? 

Anyway, in the deepest recesses of his dark heart, Bernard isn't really vile, but like dear Drac, is still very much inhuman, and like most monsters we have come to know and love, flawed and misunderstood. Give "Flask" a read and see if you don't agree.

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