-- Hugh Hefner
I had two things when I was kid, blonde hair, and an affinity for all things British. The blonde hair came from my mother. The love of the Britons from my father, who had lived there for a few months on a mission trip. I wrote poems about England, informed my fiends of their driving on the “wrong” side of the road, and played the British version of Monopoly. So much so that I didn’t know the names of the properties on the original Monopoly board. It was all Fleet Street and Mayfair in my eyes. But it wasn’t until I went to grad school in GB that I discovered one of my British loves, Hammer.
Although my love of all things Python may be greater, Hammer holds a special place in my heart. Gothic horror in general being one of my favorite genres, the films of Hammer Studios speak to me.
Having watched and rewatched, for the most part, all of Hammer’s films I began to notice similarities. No, not that they have the same actors, or set pieces. Other similarities, one of which I would like to talk about here.
Firstly, let’s get one thing straight, Dracula is a lover, not a fighter. He loves women, but mostly he loves the chase. He reminds us to not hate the player, hate the game. Also, Dracula loves blondes. Sure he will definitely chomp on a brunnette and has been known to neck with a redhead or two, but blondes are his main course.
In five Dracula films produced by Hammer from 1966 to 1972; Dracula Prince of Darkness(1966), Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula(1970), Scars of Dracula (1970) and Dracula A.D.1972 (1972) we see Dracula’s love for fair haired beauties come in many forms. Although this list does not cover the entire Hammer Dracula series, nor does it delve into the vampire offshoots such as the Carmilla trilogy or Vampire Circus (1972). These five films cover the height of Dracula canon produced by Hammer after it’s attempt to break away from the normal Dracula plot lines in Brides of Dracula (1960) and before its complete demise with Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973). Although Horror of Dracula does feature a a blonde Mina, and would perhaps fit the criteria I am describing below I have omitted it from this list given it's chronological distance to the other films and its stricter adherence to the Stoker novel.
Blonde hair is sometimes associated with innocence. Many people have blonde hair as children, eventually developing darker shades as they grow older. This can also be a reflection of purity. White is pure, therefore, blonde is pure. Or some would have us to believe. Alfred Hitchcock once stated “Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.” He is speaking to a blonde’s visual purity. Something psychological that the audience subconsciously picks up on and the director knows. Innocence is what every good victim in a horror film has. It’s what needs to be corrupted. And who better to corrupt it than the “Prince” of darkness, Dracula. This innocence is what separates the blonde in these films from the other women.
Blondes are also associated with having low intelligence. A “blonde” moment, a ditsy blonde, and bimbo carry connotations of stupidity with lighter hair. The first "dumb blonde" is thought to be an blonde French prostitute named Rosalie Duthé who had a reputation of being beautiful but dumb inspired a play about her called Les Curiosites de la Foire (Paris 1775). Again, who makes the best victim, stupid people. So it would be logical that Dracula would want someone docile who he could control as his main squeeze. Granted he seems to have no trouble controlling anyone with his mesmerizing stare.
Oddly enough, it has been noted that gentlemen do in fact prefer blondes as title of the book, play and films suggest. Scientific studies have delved into this theory. Placing evolutionary biology for one of the possible causes of this phenomenon. Or simply is it, as Clairol put it, blondes just have more fun? A subject Darwin actually was known to have studied at some point during the the 1860’s. As we shall see, perhaps deep down Dracula is just a normal guy like the rest of us. Just undead.