Movie Review


The 80's - unplugged. The murders - unveiled. The legend - unzipped.
Wonderland Movie Poster

US Release Date: 10-03-2003

Directed by: James Cox


  • Val Kilmer
  • John Holmes
  • Lisa Kudrow
  • Sharon Holmes
  • Kate Bosworth
  • Dawn Schiller
  • Dylan McDermott
  • David Lind
  • Josh Lucas
  • Ron Launius
  • Franky G
  • Louis Cruz
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Sallie Hansen
  • Christina Applegate
  • Susan Launius
  • Janeane Garofalo
  • Joy Miller
  • Eric Bogosian
  • Eddie Nash
Reviewed on: September 30th, 2003
Val Kilmer in Wonderland.

Val Kilmer in Wonderland.

You would think a movie about porn king John Holmes would be overflowing with sex. This is not the case with Wonderland, the new movie from Lions Gate Films, which deals with the aftermath of the legendarily endowed porn star's career, specifically his involvement with the infamous Wonderland murders that took place in L.A. during the summer of 1981. The viewer is informed at the beginning that John Holmes made more than 1,000 porno movies and slept with more than 14,000 women and in one scene a character tells him to take out his penis to show it off in the middle of a party. Other than that the movie only dances around the subject of sex. Instead we are given an unflinchingly honest and no holds barred look at the seamy side of L.A.'s drug underbelly. And although there are obvious parallels with the successful Boogie Nights, Wonderland is darker and much more violent. In fact, this movie is so full of lowlifes acting degenerately that you may feel the need to bathe after watching it.

The cast, led by Val Kilmer as Holmes, does a fine job. You've never seen Lisa Kudrow or Dylan McDermott like this before. Other famous stars appear in blink-and-you-miss-them cameos like Carrie Fisher and Janeane Garofalo or are completely unrecognizable like Christina Applegate.

It's the summer of 1981 and for John Holmes the party is pretty much over. Only he doesn't want to admit it. Although technically still married (to Kudrow) he lives with his young girlfriend. Together they exist only for the next high. This destructive path leads Holmes to befriend dealers Ron and Susan Launius (Applegate) and their partner David Lind. These three operate out of the Wonderland party house in Laurel Canyon. When the Wonderland crew gets desperate for drugs and cash they decide to rob notorious gangster Eddie Nash, whom John Holmes happens to be 'friends' with. The break-in goes as planned, but days later the slaughter at Wonderland takes place. The question of just how the events played out will never be known for sure. We are given opposing versions by David Lind (he just happened to be out of town at the time) and John Holmes. Plus, after Holmes death from Aids in 1988 his former wife came forward with more incriminating evidence against him. Still it all comes down to whose story you believe.

Although well crafted and entertaining Wonderland is not for the squeamish. The actual murders are graphically reenacted and we're talking baseball bats and lead pipes to the head. With that as a warning see this movie at your own risk.