The costume as offered by Profiles in History on May 15th, 2011
The robot costume from Renown Picture’s Mother Riley Meets The Vampire (1952) failed to reach the reserve price of $15,000 (£9,170) when offered for auction by Profiles in History of Calabasas Hills, California. Although the costume is a “remarkable science-fiction artifact” and of great interest to Lugosi enthusiasts, collectors were perhaps deterred by the over-optimistic asking price.
The costume, which had been in a private collection in England for over twenty years, made a surprise return to the spotlight when it was auctioned by Bonhams of London for £1,680 ($2,747) in December, 2010.
The costume as sold by Bonhams in December, 2010
Mother Riley Meets The Vampire was the fifteenth and final film in the Old Mother Riley Series, which began in 1937. A sixteenth film, Mother Riley’s Trip To Mars, was announced by Renown in December 1951, but the project was shelved.
Original UK poster
The rationale behind including Bela Lugosi in the film was to make it appeal to the American market, but the dated regional humour of Mother Riley was not to the taste of American distributors. Plans to replace the scenes of Old Mother Riley with newly shot footage of Lugosi had to be abandoned because, only a year after filming Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, declining health had changed his appearance too much. Re-edited and re-titled as Vampire Over London, and later My Son, The Vampire, the film finally achieved an American release in 1963. (Andi Brooks)
Old Mother Riley (Artur Lucan) inspects the robot