Joe D’Amato was born on December 15, 1936 in Rome, Italy. He was the son of a chief photographic technician. D’Amato began his work in film at the age of 14 where he began assisting in the dubbing of Italian film productions. He began working as a still photographer on the set of the 1952 film production La Carroza d’Oro. He eventually moved on to work as a camera operator and cinematographer. 

D’Amato began directing films in the early 1970s and were often either horror film or pornography. He continued to work as a cinematographer on other Italian genre productions such as Luigi Batzella’s Il Plenilunio delle Vergini and Alberto De Martino’s L’Anticristo. He returned to directing with Giubbe Rosse. After the release of popular erotic film Emmanuelle, several similar films began production, including D’Amato’s Emanuelle e Francoise directed with Bruno Mattei. D’Amato began adding more violent and sex into his films following this release.