Wonderland (2003 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Cox|
|Produced by||Michael Paseornek
|Written by||James Cox
D. Loriston Scott
|Music by||Cliff Martinez|
|Editing by||Jeff McEvoy|
|Running time||104 minutes|
Wonderland is a 2003 American crime and drama film co-written and directed by James Cox, and based on the real-life Wonderland Murders that occurred in 1981. The film stars Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth, Lisa Kudrow, Dylan McDermott, Josh Lucas, Christina Applegate, and Tim Blake Nelson. Kilmer plays the role of John Holmes, a pornographic film star and suspected accomplice in four grisly murders committed in an apartment on Wonderland Avenue in the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles.
John Holmes and Dawn Schiller
The underage girlfriend of John Holmes, Dawn Schiller (Kate Bosworth), is on the streets and picked up by a holy roller (Carrie Fisher) after she and Holmes break up. She eventually calls Holmes to come and get her. Holmes arrives at the apartment and they have sex and snort cocaine in the bathroom. While in a motel room, Dawn sees a newscast that states four people were murdered at a rowhouse on Wonderland Avenue, the same one she had earlier been in with Holmes. The story eventually moves onto two city detectives (Ted Levine and Franky G) investigating the crime and their contact with Holmes. Another officer (M. C. Gainey) intervenes with the investigation, himself being a colleague of Holmes.
David Lind's story
The next major character introduced is David Lind (Dylan McDermott). He hears of his friends' murders at Wonderland and soon discovers his girlfriend was there. While at the crime scene, he is picked up by LAPD Detectives Nico and Cruz (representing real-life detectives in the case, Tom Lange and Bob Souza). Through Lind's story (told in flashbacks), we are introduced to some of the people who party at Wonderland. These people, known as the Wonderland Gang include Ron Launius (Josh Lucas) and his wife Susan Launius (Christina Applegate), Billy Deverell (Tim Blake Nelson), Lind's 22-year old girlfriend Barbara Richardson (Natasha Gregson Wagner), and Joy Miller (Janeane Garofalo). Ron has a fondness for antique guns and frequently shows them off. When he learns that Holmes knows notorious gangster Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian), he gives Holmes a pair of stolen antique guns to take to Nash so that Nash can fence them and they can split the loot. (Nash befriended Holmes because of Holmes' notoriety as the porn film phenomenon Johnny Wadd.) Holmes takes the guns to Nash, but Nash says the guns are too rare to be sold, as they would be recognized right away and everyone involved would be apprehended. Rather than give the guns back to Holmes, Nash keeps them for himself. Attempting to get back in the gang's good graces, Holmes suggests robbing Nash's home. Ron Launius is reluctant to go along with the robbery at first, but after Holmes gives him a rundown of what's there, he is eager to participate. Holmes volunteers to draw them a map to plan the robbery, since he has visited Nash's house frequently. Holmes then visits Nash to buy drugs. On the way out, he leaves the door to the kitchen unlocked to give the Wonderland gang easy access.
The robbery of Eddie Nash
The next morning, Ron Launius, Lind, and Deverell carry out the robbery, while wheel-man Tracy McCourt waits outside in a car, serving as lookout. Neither Holmes nor any of the women is present when the robbery occurs. The Wonderland Gang gains access through the unlocked kitchen door and robs Nash at gunpoint. Lind accidentally fires his gun, wounding Nash's bodyguard, Greg Diles (Faizon Love). The gang hurls racial epithets at Nash and Diles and walks away with over one million dollars in cash, jewels, and drugs. They bring their loot back to the Wonderland apartment to divide everything up. Holmes is unhappy with the cut he is given, even though he did not take part in the robbery.
Nash finds out that Holmes helped plan the robbery, has Holmes beaten, and finds his little black book. He tells Holmes he will kill every person listed in the book, starting with his mother, if he does not give up the men who robbed him.
July 1, 1981
The retaliation for the robbery is swift and fatal. On July 1, 1981, a group of Nash's henchmen (including Holmes), led by Diles, gains access to the apartment at Wonderland Avenue. Ron Launius, Deverell, Richardson, and Miller are all brutally beaten to death with striated lead pipes. Diles compels Holmes to deliver blows to Launius. Susan Launius is beaten but not killed. She survives and is questioned by Nico and Cruz in her hospital bed. She tells them (in a near comatose state) that she does not remember anything, only shadows. Lind is not present during the attacks.
- Val Kilmer as John Holmes
- Kate Bosworth as Dawn Schiller
- Dylan McDermott as David Lind
- Carrie Fisher as Sally Hansen
- Josh Lucas as Ron Launius
- Christina Applegate as Susan Launius
- Ted Levine as Sam Nico
- Tim Blake Nelson as Billy Deverell
- Janeane Garofalo as Joy Miller
- Natasha Gregson Wagner as Barbara Richardson
- Faizon Love as Greg Diles
- Joleigh Pulsonetti as Alexa
- Lisa Kudrow as Sharon Holmes
- M.C. Gainey as Billy Ward
- Joel Michaely as Bruce
- Franky G as Louis Cruz
- Eric Bogosian as Eddie Nash
- Paris Hilton as Barbie
- Scoot McNairy as Jack
- John Holmes (archive footage) as Johnny Wadd
- Michael Pitt (deleted scenes) as Gopher
- Alexis Dziena (deleted scenes) as Gopher's Girlfriend
The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film a mediocre review, granting it two out of four stars, and saying: "True crime procedurals can have a certain fascination, but not when they're jumbled glimpses of what might or might not have happened involving a lot of empty people whose main claim to fame is that they're dead."