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Don Sharp: Psychomania + The Kiss of the Vampire Director

Don SharpAccording to various online sources, Tasmanian-born director Don Sharp has died at age 89.

A former small-time actor (The Planter’s Wife, The Cruel Sea), Sharp (born April 19, 1922, in Hobart) is best remembered for several low-budget thrillers he directed in the 1960s, such as Hammer’s The Kiss of the Vampire (1963), the sci-fier Curse of the Fly (1965), and the The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966), starring Christopher Lee as the East Asian fiend.

Sharp’s other notable efforts include The Death Wheelers / Psychomania (1973), about a youth gang terrorizing a small town; the IRA drama Hennessy (1975), with A-listers Rod Steiger and Lee Remick; The Thirty Nine Steps, an underrated remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic starring Robert Powell in Robert Donat’s old man-on-the-run role; and the slow-moving adventure drama Bear Island, featuring Vanessa Redgrave and Donald Sutherland.

Sharp also worked on British television, directing several episodes from The Avengers. Other notable television efforts were a made-for-TV remake of The Four Feathers (1978) starring Beau Bridges and Jane Seymour, and the miniseries A Woman of Substance (1984) and its sequel, Hold the Dream (1986). Adapted from novels by Barbara Taylor Bradford, the latter two are made watchable by the presence of Deborah Kerr, who, as the rags-to-riches businesswoman, elevates the cheesy proceedings to the realm of compelling melodrama whenever she is on screen. Jenny Seagrove plays the young Kerr in both films; the extensive supporting cast features old and new talent, among them John Mills, Liam Neeson, Miranda Richardson, Barry Bostwick, Diane Baker, George Baker, Peter Chelsom, Gayle Hunnicutt, and Christopher Gable.

Sharp’s last credits were several episodes of the television series Act of Will (1989), another adaptation of a Barbara Taylor Bradford novel.

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