Roberto Curti – Riccardo Freda (2017)

Book cover "Riccardo Freda" by Roberto CurtiRoberto Curti Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker

Paperback, 376 pages Publisher: Mcfarland & Co Inc Language: English

Riccardo Freda’s I VAMPIRI and THE HORRIBLE DR HICHCOCK are now recognised as milestones of Italian horror.  His two Barbabra Steele films in particular have earned Freda reputation as one of the greats of Italian genre cinema, alongside Mario Bava and Antonio Margheriti. Yet Freda has never really been the critics’ darling. Although some of Riccardo Freda’s adventure films (such as IL CAVALIERE MISTERIOSO) were box office hits, his body of work has rarely been lauded in his native Italy during his lifetime. It was the French critics who first praised Riccardo Freda’s films in the 1960s.

As European genre cinema was becoming increasingly geared towards erotic content, Freda gave in to the market demands. His giallo/horror hybrids IGUANA WITH A TONGUE OF FIRE and MURDER OBSESSION (which filmmaker himself dismissed as trash) are packed with sleaze and gory violence.

In March 2017 McFarland Press published this pioneering English language study of the cinema of Riccardo Freda. Written by the acclaimed film expert Roberto Curti (author of Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1970-1979 and Italian Crime Filmography, 1968–1980), this well-researched tome covers each film in Riccardo Freda’s vast filmography in the context of Italian cinema of the time as well as in relation to the filmmaker’s overall career. Also included is Freda’s complete filmography, rare interviews with Freda’s creative collaborators and highly informative chapter notes.

The amount of research that has obviously gone into compiling Riccardo Freda The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker is nothing short of astounding. Rather than just piling on stills and promo images or being opinionated (a sin of which unfortunately many cult film publications are guilty today), Curti’s book opts for a leveled, fact-based approach yet still packs in a wealth of trivia (what do Freda’s MURDER OBSESSION and Dario Argento’s oft-cherished DEEP RED have in common?).

Reviewed on November 12 2017 by Alex Bakshaev