WONDERLAND

WONDERLAND-United States/Canada-2003

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Val Kilmer as John Holmes

Val Kilmer as John Holmes

Kate Bosworth as Dawn Schiller

Kate Bosworth as Dawn Schiller

Lisa Kudrow as Sharon Holmes

Lisa Kudrow as Sharon Holmes

Josh Lucas as Ron Launius

Josh Lucas as Ron Launius

Tim Blake Nelson (L) as Billy Deverall

Tim Blake Nelson (L) as Billy Deverall

Dylan McDermott as David Lind

Dylan McDermott as David Lind

Christina Applegate as Susan Launius

Christina Applegate as Susan Launius

Eric Bogosian as Eddie Nash

Eric Bogosian as Eddie Nash

Carrie Fisher as Sally Hansen

Carrie Fisher as Sally Hansen

Franky G. as Louis Cruz

Franky G. as Louis Cruz

M.C. Gainey as Billy Ward

M.C. Gainey as Billy Ward

Janeane Garofalo as Joy Miller

Janeane Garofalo as Joy Miller

Ted Levine as Sam Nico

Ted Levine as Sam Nico

Faizon Love as Greg Diles (Image not from film)

Faizon Love as Greg Diles (Image not from film)

Natasha Gregson Wagner as Barbara Richardson

Natasha Gregson Wagner as Barbara Richardson

Directed by James Cox

Written by James Cox, Captain Mauzner, Todd Samovitz and D. Loriston Scott

The film Wonderland is an account of the Wonderland or Laurel Canyon Murders, whichever name you prefer to attach to them, which occurred at 8763 Wonderland Avenue (3768 in the film) in the Laurel Canyon district of Los Angeles on July 1, 1981. The victims were Joy Audrey Gold Miller (Janeane Garofalo, RatatouilleDogma), her boyfriend William ‘Billy’ Deverall (Tim Blake Nelson, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Lincoln), Ronald ‘Ron’ Launius (Josh Lucas, HulkPoseidon) and Barbara Richardson (Natasha Gregson Wagner, Urban LegendHigh Fidelity). The four of them had been bludgeoned to death with a striated lead pipe. A fifth victim, Susan Launius (Christina Applegate, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron BurgundyHall Pass) survived albeit with serious injuries. It is believed that the murders were in retaliation for a robbery that took place at the home of Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian, Talk Radioand Cadillac Records), a drug dealer and the owner of several nightclubs in the Los Angeles area. Knowing who the victims were and knowing that Eddie Nash was at least indirectly involved leads us to now ask one important question: what does a quadruple homicide and a drug dealer have to do with porn star John Holmes?

We all know the legend of John Holmes aka Johnny Wadd. He slept with over 14,000 women. He had a 10 inch or 12 inch or 13½ inch penis according to whoever’s talking about it and how far they want to pull out the tape measure. We know that he died of complications from the AIDS virus in March, 1988. We know that before he died that he was afraid that his famous ‘appendage’ would be cut off and pickled as a conversation piece on some douchebag’s curio shelf after he was dead and gone. The thing that we are still not sure of is whether or not John Holmes was a murderer.

The film tells the tale of the murders from two different viewpoints. The first, from David Lind (McDermott, American Horror Story, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) paints Holmes as a scumbag that sells his friends out after being slighted in his take of the Nash robbery. The second viewpoint is from Holmes himself who paints Lind as a liar who could not be believed about anything. John Holmes is guilty, John Holmes is innocent; Wonderland lets you form your own opinion.

Val Kilmer (Heat, Tombstone) is great in the role of Holmes. This was when he could be trusted to give a great performance; although I think the haircut was a bit too reminiscent of his role as Jim Morrison in The Doors. Also, let’s face it; compared to the real life John Holmes, Kilmer is an Adonis. If it weren’t for having a super-sized weed-whacker the dude would have never gotten a date. As for Kate Bosworth, she’s seriously miscast as Holmes’ girlfriend, Dawn Schiller. She looks lost in every scene as if she has no idea why she’s there.

“Um, Mr. Director, What’s my motivation?”

“You’re the drug addicted whore girlfriend of a porn star with a really big schlong. That’s your motivation.”

“Oh. Okay!!”

The best performance in the film comes from Lisa Kudrow (Easy A, Analyze This) as Holmes’ estranged wife, Sharon. She knows Holmes is a user and wants nothing to do with him; her frustration every time he shows up at her doorstep is heartbreaking to see.

Is Wonderland a good movie? Yes. Does it give us the answer to the questions we’ve been asking all these years? No; but only because the answers aren’t there to begin with. My personal opinion is that Holmes was as guilty as his dick was long. If he wasn’t at the scene of the crime with a lead pipe in his hands then he knew exactly what was going on and didn’t do a fucking thing to stop it. I believe that the man was scum and that a big cock and a bunch of porn credits aren’t going to do anything to change that. You may not agree with my opinion, and you may not want to hear it; but it’s mine and I’m giving it to you anyway.

TRIVIA 

The film is based on the incident known as either the Laurel Canyon Murders or the Wonderland Murder Case that actually happened in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles in July, 1981.

When the film played the Toronto Film Festival, one of the promotional items handed out was a ruler that was 13 1/2 inches long.

The actual police investigation tape of the crime scene is included as a special feature in the DVD release of the film.

Christina Applegate grew up near the site of the Wonderland murders and remembers seeing the bloody mattresses on the street, which led to her agreeing to take a relatively small role in the film.

In the movie, Val Kilmer (as John Holmes) wears a chain around his neck that holds a ring. The ring is was the actual wedding band that John Holmes gave his wife, Sharon, when they got married in 1965. Sharon loaned it to Val to give him good luck on the movie. When the movie was over, Sharon then gave the ring to Dawn Schiller.

In the real life story, John did not call Eddie Nash after the robbery at his place. Rather, John was spotted by some of Nash’s associates in Hollywood. They noticed that John was wearing some of the jewelry that was stolen in the robbery and told Nash about it. John was then accosted by two gunmen who then took him to Nash for questioning.

The movie did not portray that, while John was being beaten up at Nash’s house,Liberace’s lover, Scott Thorson, was present. It was his testimony that eventually led to the indictment of Eddie Nash by federal authorities.

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About Written in Blood

I was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina on March 4, 1962. I guess that makes me old, but I certainly don't feel that way. I still play video games and listen to rock and roll music. I love movies, especially horror films. I have a beautiful wife who is my all time best friend. She supports me in everything I do. More importantly, she calls me out on my bullshit. This blog is dedicated to her for everything she's done for me.

Posted on 03/06/2013, in Movies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I loved this movie. After watching it, I did so much more research of my own. I read Dawn Schiller’s book THE ROAD THROUGH WONDERLAND, and even though it was a completely different story, it helped to give more dimension to it all. I rewatch Boogie Nights, looking for more hidden ‘eggs’, and the cartoon shows that nod in that direction!
    Val Kilmer did a good job of portraying Holmes, Dawn Schiller was on set and felt the need to write her book & tell her side (which barely even touched on the murders compared to their relationship), because of it. I’m just pointing that out because I disagree with ‘filmhipster’, although I respect his opinion.
    Wow. I never find myself commenting like this!
    Love your blog, it’s going to take me a very long time to read it all!!

  2. Never saw this and I had thought this was a straight up John Holmes porn biopic. It sounds much cooler now will have to try and check this one out.

  3. I remember being indifferent about this one. I wanted to like it going in… but it fell short.

    Now the only thing I remember about it is something being thrown through the window.

    Nice review, though.

    • Thank you. Wonderland seems to be one of those ‘you either like it or you don’t’ movies. Thanks for commenting and following and I have returned the gesture and am now following you, also.

      • No problem. It’s great when I read something that makes me want to say something. Thanks for the return gesture.

        It wasn’t that I didn’t like it… I guess… I just don’t remember it at all now, so I certainly couldn’t have loved it. Very forgettable, middle of the road stuff, in retrospect I guess.

        • Just remember Kilmer was good, Bosworth looked lost and Bogosian played a pretty good sleazebag. Oh, and if you blink you’ll miss Paris Hilton.

  4. hmmm, I may well check this out

  5. I can’t remember if I saw this or not but I certainly remember hearing about it all over the place when it came out.

    • it kinda slipped under the radar

      • I dunno wherever I was there was like this big thing – maybe it was just churches boycotting it or something that I remember? I know I wanted to see it because of Kilmer (because he played Jim Morrison and I was so in love after that, lol).

        • it’s not a bad movie. like I said it just doesn’t answer the question as to whether Holmes actually had anything to do with the murders. Personally I think he did.

  6. I loved Kilmer in this!! Before he got fat…. :(

  7. This film was horrible. The beginning of Kilmer’s downfall into obscurity. :)

    • It’s not for everybody, that’s for sure; but I don’t think it was horrible. But that is your opinion and you are respectfully entitled to it. Thanks for commenting! :)

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