Born in Egypt to Neapolitan parents, Riccardo Freda attended school in Milan and also took classes at the Centro Sperimantale. Freda supported himself as a sculptor and art critic before entering films in a supervisory capacity in 1937. He directed his first film, Don Cesare di Bazan, in 1942. Exhibiting a preference for historical spectacles, Freda turned out such sprawling, big-budget efforts as Les Miserables (1947) and Theodora, Slave Empress (1953). He later trafficked in sword-and-sandal films like Giants of Thessaly, and in such graphic melodramas as Caltiki the Immortal Monster (1959) and The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock (1962). Riccardo Freda continued writing and directing into the late 1970s, often working pseudonymously as Robert Hampton, George Lincoln or Willy Pareto.