Richter graduated from Dartmouth College and attended USC film school. He began script writing for Hollywood in the 1970s. He wrote the hit comedy Slither (1973), followed by two similarly styled comedies, Peeper (1975) and Nickelodeon (1976). He branched into other genres starting with the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake in 1978. He continued writing scripts throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In the early 1980s Richter formed his own production company (with producer Neil Canton), Canton/Richter, and directed the science fiction cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. The film did poorly at the box office and the company broke up. Richter continued to write screenplays however, and has since written Home for the Holidays and Stealth.