Czar Nikolay Nikolayevich (MASSIMO SERATO), a rat bastard "miserable tyrant," finds time between flogging his countrymen to commission Akim, "Russia’s greatest archeologist," to search for the lost treasures of an advanced, extinct civilization.
In a frozen cave somewhere in the Ural mountains, Akim and his team not only find the buried loot of the forgotten race, but an ancient sarcophagus containing the body of red-haired Maciste (KIRK MORRIS of The Witch’s Curse) lying in suspended animation. Akim rubs some convenient oil on Maciste’s bare bulging chest and the Brawny One is quickly revived though he doesn’t remember who he is. Nevertheless, the moment the expedition is attacked by mercenaries, the Mighty M starts hurling boulders.
Back in Moscow, the Czar is impressed by the big galoot and plans to use him to scare the populace from any attempts at rebellion. But after seeing the Czar’s men torturing everyone in a village, the hunkosaurus gets pissed: "I’m utterly appalled at his tyranny!" And when a rebel babe he has the hots for is placed under a giant contraption lined with hundreds of daggers, Maciste does what musclemen do best: he goes apeshit and wrecks things...
A fun, oddball, and very off-beat sword-and-sandal with the juxtaposition of Italian beefcake in 19th century Russia consistently startling. In fact, Mr. Morris walks around with a perpetually dazed expression as if he just wandered onto the wrong film set and is wondering why he’s half naked while everyone else is dressed like cossacks.
But where, you may ask, is Atlas in all this? Surprise! He’s actually Maciste! Obviously, the film was already dubbed into English before imported into the U.S. where the name Maciste wasn’t considered as marketable as, say, Atlas or Samson. Thus, Maciste became Samson when this was released theatrically (in black & white!) as Samson vs. The Giant King, and renamed Atlas when sold to television via a brief explanatory note in the opening credits: "Kirk Morris, The Legendary Atlas Now Known as ’Machiste,’ in Atlas Against The Czar." (And, yes, they added the "h.")
From an ultra-rare 16mm weight-lifting negative. And if you know anything about history, you know that every word of this is true.
-- Watson Pritchard
Color: Color Italy
Starring: Kirk Morris
Co-starring: Massimo Serato
Other cast: Ombretta Colli, Gloria Milland
Directed by: Tanio Boccia ("Amerigo Anton")