Riccardo Freda

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Riccardo Freda
Riccardo Freda 1958.png
Riccardo Freda in 1958
Born (1909-02-24)24 February 1909
Alexandria, Egypt
Died 20 December 1999(1999-12-20) (aged 90)
Rome, Italy
Occupation Film director

Riccardo Freda (Alexandria, Egypt, February 24, 1909 – Rome, Italy, December 20, 1999) was an Italian film director. He was born to a Neapolitan family. He left studies in Milan in 1933 and entered the Experimental Center for Cinematography and he soon began work as a screenwriter for directors like Goffredo Alessandrini and Raffaello Matarazzo. Best known for his horror and thriller movies, Freda had no great love for the horror films he was assigned, but rather favored the epic sword and sandal pictures, being inspired by the literary classics of Hugo and Pushkin. Unlike other directors of the period like Mario Bava and Antonio Margheriti, Freda had worked with high budgets and obtained egregious results. Freda's Sins of Rome (1953) was one of the first Italian peplums, predating Steve Reeves's Hercules by four years, and his classic Giants of Thessaly (1961) was theatrically released one year before Ray Harryhausen's famous Jason and the Argonauts. He directed Kirk Morris and Gordon Scott in two classic Maciste films in the sixties, in addition to directing several spy films, spaghetti westerns, historical dramas and World War II actioners.

He never finished either of the two horror films he was assigned in the 1950s (I Vampiri and Caltiki), but rather allowed his cinematographer Mario Bava to complete them. Bava's great effects work on Caltiki in particular launched him on a directing career of his own in 1960. Thus many fans regard Freda as Mario Bava's mentor in the film industry.

Freda's greatest horror films were his two 1960s titles, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) and The Ghost (1963), both of which starred Barbara Steele, but he really enjoyed doing the adventure films a lot more. He directed Anton Diffring and the legendary Klaus Kinski in giallos later in the decade, and then pretty much retired from filmmaking in 1972, emerging from his retirement in 1981 (at age 72) to direct one last slasher film, Murder Obsession (aka Fear).

He died in 1999 in Rome of natural causes (at age 90).


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