The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill - Original Soundtrack
International Title
 House of Hanging
Music By: Shinichi Tanabe
Record Label: Fuji Kinema
Running Time: 48:33 Discs: 1
Release: December 2011 CD Number: FJCM-016
Anthony Romero
First off, huge thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this disc for review!

This release by Fuji Kinema is a reissue of the soundtrack for the late 1970's House of Hanging. Like most of the company's material, the disc comes in a cardboard sleeve that is intended to replicate the original record release. This particular soundtrack was most recently issued in 1998 by Culture Publishers (CPC8-3014). In terms of content, this release is identical, but considering the 1998 CD fetches top dollar the 2011 version is welcome if for nothing more allowing more people to own the music. In terms of the quality of the music, the disc has a few duds, but as a whole is fairly solid and makes for a pretty enjoyable standalone experience.

Composer Shinichi Tanabe will likely always be best remembered for his hallmark, and deliciously dated, work for Hell's Gate Island (1977). While this score for the 1979 movie from the Kosuke Kindaichi series doesn't measure up, it's the closest Tanabe got to successfully reproducing that same style in a few of these themes. This particular score also experiments with a slight jazz influence on a couple of the themes, with vocal chorus work that feels right at home for a 1970's score such as in "Hill Scenery 4". Still, Tanabe does sometimes go overboard, and the rather awful "Angry Pirates: Theme of the Angry Pirates" is testament to that with a screechy horn medley.

The real winner of this score is the opening piece and main title of the film, "The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme" and also seen in extended form for "Where". The theme starts off with an almost tragic piano number that swells into a majestic tune that is carried by light string work before violins become the centerpiece and are then joined by the piano and finally drum work. The right balance is struck where it's easily one of Tanabe's best themes of his career and a real joy to listen to.

In terms of songs, the disc features one by actress Junko Sakurada which is a modern version of the 1930's song "It's Only a Paper Moon". Sakurada deserves a lot of credit here as her English in the song is flawless and she carries the track far better than probably anyone would assume for someone native to Japan. A karaoke version of the song, featuring the trumpet and other "band" instrumentation, is also found on track 12.

Overall, the previous two scores in this series might be superior, but Tanabe is consistently good across all three of his Kosuke Kindaichi scores. The soundtrack isn't for everyone, but those who enjoy music from this period should find enough to praise about this specific score.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme
  2. Mystery 1
  3. Hill Scenery 1
  4. Search
  5. Past
  6. A Sad Encounter
  7. Secret of the Attic Room
  8. Secretly...
  9. Angry Pirates: Theme of the Angry Pirates
  10. Hill Scenery 2
  11. Windchime
  12. It's Only a Paper Moon
  13. Mystery 2
  14. Cursed Fate
  15. Lullaby
  16. Where to
  17. Hill Scenery 3
  18. Hill Scenery 4
  19. Angry Pirates (Another Version)
  20. It's Only a Paper Moon (Vocal Version)
    By: Junko Sakurada
  21. Two Young People
  22. The House of Hanging on Hospital Hill Theme (Another Version)