Fiendish Investigation: The World of Mystery Movies
International Title
Music By: Various
Record Label: Columbia
Running Time: 71:14 Discs: 1
Release: January 1996 CD Number: COCA-13095
Anthony Romero
First off, huge thanks goes to Robert Storch for sending this disc in for review!

Released in the mid-1990's, this set from Columbia, which is a reissue of a 1977 LP (AX-5015) with some of the later movies added in, focuses on the Kosuke Kindaichi films based on the work of novelist Seishi Yokomizo. This "franchise" is rather unique for being a cross studio affair. Kosuke Kindaichi is an expansive source, still alive today in remakes such as The 8-Tomb Village (1996) and Inugamis (2006) and a variety of TV adaptations. This set focuses on the 1970's films, excluding Toei's work, which at this stage already had a diverse pool of firms behind it. Murder Case in the Mansion was made by ATG, Village of 8 Gravestones was produced by Shochiku, and The Inugamis (1976) was created by Kadokawa, and would be the first film Toho released in the series. In total, Toho released five of these movies during this period, all of which are covered in this release along with the previously mentioned Murder Case in the Mansion and Village of 8 Gravestones.

The CD is a compilation disc, covering a variety of themes from the seven films featured. It starts off with Shinichi Tanabe's work on Hell's Gate Island (1977). A wise choice to lead the CD off with, as this is probably the best soundtrack in the entire franchise. It is primarily a soothing body of work, and has enough to make it distinct for the time period. "Prison Gate Island Theme" is a little dated for example, and sadly has a slight hiss to the track here, but none the less makes for a great listen. Tracks 10 through 20 focus on the other Toho films in the series. Lullaby to Kill (1977), while not the strongest entry in the series from a musical perspective, contains a few themes that stand out in a real positive light, two of which are found here with "Ballade of Pathos" and "Between Love and Hate".

After this comes some more work from Tanabe, who would become a series regular for Toho's entries. His work on Queen Bee (1978) is also stellar, featuring the second best score in the series. The "Queen Bee Theme" is always excellent, as is the slightly exotic and very soothing "Tomoko's Theme: Queen Bee of Love". The selection for this film, though, isn't the best, as tracks like "Love and Hate" seem at odds with some of the others. Finally, the disc closes with Tanabe's final score in the series. This is probably the weakest of his three soundtracks, but includes such wonderful themes as the vocal backed "The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme" that it makes for a perfect compilation inclusion. Sadly, this set does have the very jazz influenced "Angry Pirates: Theme of the Angry Pirates", which is not for everyone to say the least. It wisely closes, though, with the slightly sorrowful theme "Where to", which makes for a good ending for the disc as a whole.

Now, in terms of tracks 5 through 9, these are actually rearranged pieces and probably the stand out inclusions because of that. Unique to the Fiendish Investigation release as far as I know, these cues by Masaaki Jinbo are stellar. These are the three films Toho did not produce in this set, they only released The Inugamis (1976), so it's possible they were re-recorded for copyright or legal reasons as Toho's logo does appear on the original LP. Regardless of why, this selection includes some great themes. In fact, one of the greatest cues off this disc is the reworked "Ochimusha's Theme". All of these tracks have a more orchestrated quality, something that sounds like a concert versus a typical soundtrack, but they work. If you like the music from this series enough, it might be worth searching out this release just for these cues. In particular the track related to Murder Case in the Mansion, as this movie has never received a more fleshed out release.

Overall, this is a very solid compilation. It's a full disc worth of music, with a few unique extras to make it stand out. It has both content for people who have the individual scores, and also works as a nice sampler for the better themes from the series. If one has been curious about the music contained in this franchise, this release makes a good springboard, although sadly is very rare and expensive today.
Rating: Star Rating
    Hell's Gate Island (1977)
    Composer: Shinichi Tanabe
  1. Love Theme
  2. Prison Gate Island Theme
  3. Kosuke Kindaichi's Theme
  4. Pilgrimage

    Village of 8 Gravestones (1977)
    By: Masaaki Jinbo, Composer: Yasushi Akutagawa
  5. Ochimusha's Theme
  6. Road Traveling Theme

    The Inugamis (1976)
    By: Masaaki Jinbo, Composer: Yuji Ono
  7. Ballade of Love
  8. Theme of Hate

    Murder Case in the Mansion (1975)
    By: Masaaki Jinbo, Composer: Nobuhiko Obayashi
  9. Murder Case in the Mansion Theme

    Lullaby to Kill (1977)
    Composer: Kunihiko Murai
  10. Ballade of Pathos
  11. Sen-nin Pass
  12. Between Love and Hate

    Queen Bee (1978)
    Composer: Shinichi Tanabe
  13. Queen Bee Theme
  14. Hideko's Theme: Closed Thought
  15. Love and Hate
  16. Tomoko's Theme: Queen Bee of Love

    House of Hanging (1979)
    Composer: Shinichi Tanabe
  17. The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme
  18. Angry Pirates: Theme of the Angry Pirates
  19. Cursed Fate
  20. Where to