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, Ratatouille, Dogma), her boyfriend William ‘Billy’ Deverall (Tim Blake Nelson, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Lincoln), Ronald ‘Ron’ Launius (Josh Lucas, Hulk, Poseidon) and Barbara Richardson (Natasha Gregson Wagner, Urban Legend, High 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 Burgundy, Hall 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 Radio, and 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.”
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.
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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