My Son, The Vampire

Watch My Son, The Vampire

"It's enough to make a bat laugh!"
  • NR
  • 1952
  • 1 hr 14 min
  • 3.8  (967)

My Son, The Vampire, also known as Mother Riley Meets the Vampire, Old Mother Riley and the Vampire, and Vampire Over London, is a classic British comedy horror film released in 1952 that combines elements of campy horror with slapstick comedy. Directed by John Gilling, it stands as part of the Old Mother Riley series, which were popular in the United Kingdom from the 1930s through the 1950s. The film is celebrated not only for its comedic value but also for featuring legendary actor Bela Lugosi, known for his iconic portrayal of Dracula.

Arthur Lucan stars as the titular character, Old Mother Riley, a role Lucan played in numerous other films. Lucan, a male actor, dons drag to play the comedic and feisty Irish washerwoman. His character, Kitty Riley, inadvertently becomes embroiled in a series of misadventures that form the plot of this offbeat movie.

The story is set in motion when a series of odd events occur that leave Londoners both amused and bewildered. Mother Riley runs a failing boarding house and is already struggling to make ends meet when her daughter (played by Dora Bryan) becomes involved with a suspicious character. The mysterious lodger, played by Bela Lugosi in one of his later roles, is Professor Von Housen, a scientist with a rather nefarious secret. Lugosi's portrayal adds an eerie charm and contributes significantly to the juxtaposition of horror and comedy that gives the film its unique flavor.

The professor is searching for a long-lost ancient Egyptian necklace which has mystical powers that are crucial to his grand and dark designs. The plot thickens when Mother Riley unwittingly gets possession of the necklace, setting off a chain of events that lead to a wild chase and numerous comedic situations.

The film sees Mother Riley engaged in a series of escapades ranging from bumbling detective work to inadvertent heroics as she tries to make sense of the mysterious happenings around her and protect her daughter from the eerie lodger’s intentions. With the assistance of a bumbling police inspector and a hapless scientist, she finds herself up to the neck in a supernatural adventure far beyond her usual domestic disputes.

Old Mother Riley's wit and street smarts are matched against the professor's diabolical intellect, leading to moments that are both suspenseful and hilariously absurd. Lugosi's performance grants the film its atmospheric weight, while Mother Riley’s interactions with him provide a comedic counterbalance that fans of the genre will find delightful. His towering presence and ominous portrayal of Von Housen, coupled with Lucan's high-spirited portrayal of the inimitable Mother Riley, creates a captivating contrast that is the heart of the film.

Thematically, the film plays with tropes common to classic horror but flips them with comedic overtones. It incorporates motifs such as the mad scientist with world-threatening inventions, the mystique of ancient artifacts, and the clash between the supernatural and the mundane. The lighthearted treatment of these themes, which might otherwise be the foundation of a serious horror narrative, is what sets My Son, The Vampire apart from its contemporaries, allowing the film to be a critique and parody all in one.

As one of the later Old Mother Riley movies, this film serves as a fascinating intersection between different phases of cinematic history. It's a slice of post-war British culture where the influence of vaudeville and music hall comedy was still very strong. It also marks a period when the horror genre was transitioning from the gothic to the modern era, and the very inclusion of Bela Lugosi, a figurehead of early horror cinema, underscores this transition.

This eccentric blend of horror and comedy is presented through a black-and-white lens, typical of its era, which adds a certain nostalgic charm to the movie. The production values reflect the budget constraints of the time, but they also showcase an ingenuity that endeared these films to audiences. Energetic performances, combined with a mix of studio sets and visual effects of the day, create a quirky yet engrossing world where anything can happen, and it often does.

My Son, The Vampire earned its place in cinematic history not just as a cult classic but also as a beloved installment in the Old Mother Riley canon. It stands as a testament to Arthur Lucan's talent and longevity as a performer, a final bow for Bela Lugosi in the genre he helped define, and a reminder of the time when laughter and chills went hand in hand at the cinema. It's a film that continues to capture the imaginations of those who revel in the odd, the vintage, and the joyously peculiar side of movie history.

My Son, The Vampire is a 1952 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 14 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 3.8.

My Son, The Vampire
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 14 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    3.8  (967)