Wonderland (2003)

R   |    |  Crime, Drama, Mystery

Wonderland (2003) Poster

In the police investigation of a brutal crime scene, one man was at the center of it all: legendary porn star John Holmes.

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  • Dylan McDermott and Josh Lucas in Wonderland (2003)
  • Val Kilmer and Kate Bosworth in Wonderland (2003)
  • Sean Lennon and Bijou Phillips at an event for Wonderland (2003)
  • Bijou Phillips at an event for Wonderland (2003)
  • Val Kilmer in Wonderland (2003)
  • Kate Bosworth and James Cox in Wonderland (2003)

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Cast & Crew

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James Cox


James Cox, Captain Mauzner, Todd Samovitz, D. Loriston Scott

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User Reviews

11 January 2012 | Lechuguilla
| The Sultans Of Sleaze
A hard film to judge owing to its complexity, "Wonderland" tells the real-life story of the 1981 Wonderland murders in Los Angeles, which involved two sets of sleaze peddlers, linked by legendary porn star John Holmes (Val Kilmer). The film can be frustrating because the script is a mess. The story's chronology constantly jumps back and forth in time. And, although Holmes is a major character, other characters are just as important, but they are poorly identified, early on.

Even so, for viewers interested specifically in this case, the story is riveting. You have a two bedroom, split level condo, called Wonderland, that functions both as a party house and as a base of operations for illegal drug distribution. In the early morning hours of July 1, 1981, two or more people quietly invade the condo and, using lead pipes, kill four of the five sleeping occupants. Displayed violence and brutality are unnerving. The bodies are not discovered for twelve hours.

Who were the killers? Was Holmes involved? What was the motive for the murders? These kinds of questions appeal to true crime buffs.

With the exception of Holmes' wife, Sharon (Lisa Kudrow), none of the characters are remotely sympathetic; they're all hooked on drugs, including Holmes. As the plot progresses, we see that a drug-obsessed life can lead to a most horrible death.

The film neatly places the story in the proper cultural context. Cinematography trends dark and a little gimmicky. Sound effects and mixing are effectively sinister. The film's tone is quite sleazy. Most scenes are suitable only for adults. Pace alternates between slow and frenetic in the first half, but settles into a pleasant pace in the second. Acting runs the gamut from poor to good.

The main weakness of the film is its script, especially a convoluted plot structure. Yet to be fair, the real-life case was quite complex, which is not the fault of the screenwriters. Some casual viewers will find the film unappealing. But despite the film's problems, I liked "Wonderland" because of its gripping, true-life premise, and because of its cultural setting and built-in mystery.

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