Riccardo Freda @100

Riccardo Freda @100

Barbara Steele in The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) – Riccardo Freda
image sourced here.

Riccardo Freda (born in Alexandria,Egypt, February 24, 1909 – died in Paris, France, December 20, 1999) was an Egyptian-born Italian film director. Ironically 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. 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 several spy films, spaghetti westerns, historical dramas and World War 2 actioners.


The Horrible Dr. Hichcock

He never finished either of the two horror films he was assigned in the fifties (I Vampiri and Caltiki – The Immortal Monster), 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 and The Ghost, 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 slowed down in the early seventies, inexplicably emerging from his retirement at 72 to direct one last slasher film (“Murder Obsession“). He died in 1999 of natural causes (at age 90).

See also: Italian horror film