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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vampire Over London (1952) a.k.a. Mother Riley Meets the Vampire

IMDB is very unkind to this film, giving it a 3.0 rating.  It’s SO much better than that!  Vampire Over London stars Bela Lugosi in a slapstick horror comedy.  Yes, you heard me correctly!  Lugosi plays Von Housen who is also known as “The Vampire.”  He’s actually a madman trying to rule the world.  The vampire thing is just a ruse to throw people off.

In spite of the fact that Bela looks a bit thin and ill, he has a blast with this role and totally hams it up in a few scenes.  This is the last decent film he made before his addiction to morphine got the best of him. However, I’ve always had a soft spot for his films with Ed Wood because he gave it 110% in spite of his declining health.  If you’re a Lugosi fan, Vampire Over London is a must-see simply to watch the twinkle in Bela’s eyes as he tackles a comedic role.

His partner in crime is British actor Arthur Lucan who made a series of movies in drag, portraying a slightly-crazed old working class woman, Mother Riley.  This was the last of these films he did as this character and some Americans will miss the humor in it completely.  If you’re not a fan of British comedy, you just not going to get this.  I love classic British comedies such as Absolutely Fabulous and Are You Being served? so I’m at home with this kind of material.  It’s completely absurd and that’s the point!  There is also a lot of “insider” material that only Brits would understand.

As an interesting bit of trivia, I read in another review that Bela Lugosi had to make this film in England because he needed the money for his ticket back home. He went to Britain to revive his famous Dracula play, but was stuck there when it bombed and the actor couldn't scrape up enough cash to sail to America! This film helped him get back on his feet.

Give this one a chance!  It’s not Bela’s best film but I thought it was a whole lot of fun!

RATING: Very Good.

You can download a free copy of this film at archive.org.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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