MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE
MY SON, THE VAMPIRE; OLD MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE; VAMPIRE OVER LONDON
Mother Riley Meets the Vampire rapidly becomes a British equivalent of one of the Old Dark House comedies that were made by the Bowery Boys/East End Kids and others in Hollywood in the 1940s. These were essentially lowbrow knockabout comedies set around an old mansion. Several of these East Side Kids comedies also featured Bela Lugosi as a sinister figure see the likes of Spooks Run Wild (1941) and Ghosts on the Loose (1943). Here Lugosi has been imported to England and is essentially typecast as himself. When we are first introduced to him, Lugosi gets out of a coffin why we are never sure and he insists on calling himself The Vampire throughout even though his activities are otherwise mundane and non-vampiric. This is no doubt to capitalise on association with Bela Lugosis signature role of Dracula (1931) than something that has any place in the films script indeed, without him calling himself The Vampire, the films title Mother Riley Meets the Vampire is meaningless.
Most of Mother Riley Meets the Vampire is pitched down at the idiotic knockabout physical clonks that were typical for the era in England the interminable Carry On films being the apotheosis of this. It is filled with cliche figures from this type of comedy the shrieking Cockney charwoman, the pompous upper-class twits, characters with buzzsaw-voiced Cockney accents and dim-witted coppers on the beat. The film also seems to lack any real story it moves the action to Bela Lugosis country mansion/laboratory early in the show and thereafter seems at a loss of what to do and spends the rest of the time engaged in endless runnings around the house. These descend to cliche elements of the Old Dark House genre with a venture down into the cobwebbed tunnels with revolving doors, hidden panels and faces peeping out from behind the eyes of portraits. The film climaxes in a frenetic slapstick chase sequence at undercranked speeds where Arthur Lucan is outfitted with a silly vehicle for no other reason than this sort of film requires one.
Beyond all of that, the goings-on in the film make little sense. Why is Bela Lugosis professor abducting women? At one point, Judith Furse tells David Hurst It is better you do not know, Mugsy. It might upset your delicate mental balance. And appropriately enough, we never do find out not that the rest of Mother Riley Meets the Vampire does anything to restore our delicate mental balance either. Equally, we never find out why Bela Lugosi is obsessed with drinking blood or believes that he is a vampire. Or for that matter why Lugosi wants to keep Mother Riley in his house on the pretence of hiring her as a maid. All of these things are raised and then promptly forgotten as though they dont matter.
Director John Gilling gained a minor name for his subsequent work with Hammer and other studios during the Anglo-horror cycle but does little of any distinguishment here. John Gillings other genre films include:- the sf film The Gamma People (1956), the Burke and Hare film The Flesh and the Fiends/Mania (1960), the psycho-thrillers The Shadow of the Cat (1961) and Panic (1963), the alien visitor film The Night Caller (1965), the trilogy of The Plague of the Zombies (1966), The Reptile (1966) and The Mummys Shroud (1967) for Hammer, and The Devils Cross (1975). Gilling also wrote the scripts for the haunted house film House of Darkness (1947), Hammers The Gorgon (1964) and the Joan Crawford turkey Trog (1970).
Full film available online here:-