Chapter 3
Classical Hollywood Vampires:
The Unnatural Whiteness of America

This chapter explores how conventions from segregation comedies, immigration romances, and miscegenation melodramas enter into Hollywood’s first vampire films. It examines ambivalence towards immigration and imperatives to assimilate to an Anglo-American mythical norm in films including Dracula (1931), Drácula (1931), Mark of the Vampire (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), and House of Dracula (1945). In early films, southern California masquerades as Transylvania, replete with (non-European) armadillos and scorpions. These films are implicitly set in the United States; others are explicitly set there. The Melting Pot myth of unidirectional assimilation into the unnatural whiteness of America is negotiates policies and programs during the 1920s that regulated immigration from eastern and southern Europe and crossings from Canada and México. The chapter concludes by examining how vampire films rework colonial conventions from Westerns.

Dracula (USA 1931; dir. Tod Browning) and
Drácula (USA 1931; dir. George Melford)

Dracula’s Daughter
(USA 1936; dir. Lambert Hillyer)

Son of Dracula
(USA 1943; dir. Robert Siodmak)

Curse of the Undead/Mark of the West
(USA 1959; dir. Henry Cass)