Joe Kane

Joe Kane

Joe Kane (died November 1, 2020) was an acclaimed American journalist, film critic, and author whose work significantly contributed to environmental literature. Known for his immersive and empathetic storytelling, Kane focuses on the struggles of indigenous populations in the face of ecological destruction. His debut non fiction book, “Running the Amazon” (1989), recounts the harrowing journey of an expedition that covered the entire length of the Amazon River. His second non fiction book, “Savages” (1995), is a poignant exploration of the Huaorani Indians’ battle against the harmful practices of international oil companies in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Kane’s masterful blend of adventure, reportage, and intimate narrative offers readers a profound insight into the stark realities of environmental degradation and the urgent need for conservation. His works, celebrated for their compassionate portrayal of threatened ecosystems and the people within them, underscore the vital conversation around global environmental issues and indigenous rights.

Film critic

Kane embarked on his cinematic critique journey in the early 1970s, joining the nascent editorial team of The Monster Times. This period was crucial in honing his analytical skills and understanding of genre films, which would later form the bedrock of his persona as “The Phantom of the Movies.” Adopted in 1984, this persona became Kane’s conduit for offering his unique insights on genre movies and videos through the New York Daily News. He also penned influential guides such as “The Phantom’s Ultimate Video Guide” and “The Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope.”

An Environmental Focused Author: From ‘Running the Amazon’ to the Heart of Ecuador in ‘Savages’

Joe Kane’s fervor for environmental literature emerged with the publication of his first book, “Running the Amazon” (1989). The narrative offers a first-hand account of the only expedition to traverse the entire 4,200-mile Amazon River from its source in Peru to the Atlantic Ocean. The adventure, steeped in challenges and triumphs, revealed the inherent beauty and ecological importance of the Amazon. Kane’s novel was lauded by both critics and readers, securing its place on lists such as Outside Magazine’s “25 Best Adventure Books of the Last 100 Years” and National Geographic’s “The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time”.

Kane’s commitment to environmental narratives continued with his second book, “Savages” (1995). The novel serves as a window into the struggles of the Huaorani Indians in Ecuador, who grapple with the exploitative practices of international oil companies. Kane’s stark depiction of the Amazon’s degradation and the resilience of its indigenous inhabitants underscores the urgent need for environmental conservation and respect for indigenous rights. Through his books, Kane emphasizes the intertwined relationship between man and nature, providing a potent critique of environmental destruction.


Joe Kane passed away in his Ocean Grove, NJ residence on November 1, 2020. Kane left a remarkable imprint in the world of film critique and environmental literature. He is survived by his wife and collaborator, Nancy Naglin, his sister Joan Nichols, and a many nieces, nephews, and their offspring.


“Savages” (Vintage, 1995.) is a vivid account by Joe Kane that unravels the intricate struggle of the Huaorani Indians of Ecuador against the exploitative practices of international oil companies, highlighting the stark reality of environmental degradation and the resilience of indigenous inhabitants in the face of modernization.
Non Fiction
  • Running the Amazon. Vintage, 1989. ISBN 0-679-72902-X – Vintage paperback re-print 1990, includes a brief afterword that provides updates on the lives of those in the book.
  • Savages. Vintage, 1995. ISBN 0-679-41191-7.
  • The Saga Of Six-Finger Pike
  • The Boy Who Nearly Won the Texaco Art Competition
Books about film
  • Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever.
  • The Phantom of the Movies’ VIDEOSCOPE: The Ultimate Guide to the Latest, Greatest, and Weirdest Genre Videos
  • Found Footage: How the Astro-Zombies Saved My Life and Other Tales of Movie Madness
  • Masters of Midnight!

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