Wonderland is a 2003 film about the Wonderland Murders starring Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth and Lisa Kudrow. It was directed by James Cox. Kilmer plays the role of John Holmes, the pornographic film star, a 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
We are first introduced to the underage
girlfriend of John Holmes
-- Dawn Schiller (Bosworth). She is on the streets and is picked up by a holy roller
) 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 been to with Holmes before. 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
). 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 L.A.P.D. 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
), Billy Deverell (Tim Blake Nelson
), Lind's 22-year old girlfriend Barbara Richardson (Natasha Gregson Wagner
), Joy Miller (Janeane Garofalo
) and Susan Launius (Christina Applegate
). Ron has a fondness for antique guns and quite frequently shows them off. When Ron learns that Holmes knows notorious gangster Eddie Nash
), 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 film phenom Johnny Wadd
. Holmes takes the guns to Nash, but Nash says the guns are too rare to be sold; 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 good graces of the gang, Holmes suggests robbing Nash's home. Ron is reluctant to go along with the robbery at first, but after Holmes gives him a rundown of what's there, he is quite eager for the big score. Holmes volunteers to draw them a map to plan the robbery, since he has been to Nash's house a lot. Holmes then visits Nash to buy drugs. On the way out, he leaves the door to the kitchen unlocked so the Wonderland gang can have easy access.
The robbery of Eddie Nash
The next morning, the robbery is carried out by Ronnie Launius, Lind, and Deverell, while wheel-man Tracy McCourt waits outside in a car, serving as lookout. Neither Holmes nor any of the women are 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
). Racial epithets are hurled at Nash and Diles. The gang 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. He has Holmes beaten and finds his black address 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. He also threatens to cut off Holmes' penis
, cut it into pieces, and shove it down his (Holmes') throat.
July 1, 1981
The retaliation for the robbery was swift and fatal. On July 1
, a group of Nash's henchmen (including Holmes) led by Diles gained access to the apartment at Wonderland Avenue. Ron Launius, Deverell, Richardson and Miller were all brutally beaten to death with striated lead pipes. The film depicted Holmes being compelled by Diles to deliver blows to Launius (this is speculation as Holmes died without ever more than hinting at his involvement in the murders). Susan Launius was also beaten, but was not killed. She survived and was questioned by Nico and Cruz in her hospital bed. She told them (in a near comatose
state), she did not remember anything -- only shadows. Lind was not present during the time of the attacks.
The robbery of Nash (in fictionalised form) features heavily in the Holmes-inspired Boogie Nights. In that film Mark Wahlberg plays the pornstar and Alfred Molina plays the "Nash" role.
- At the premiere of the film audiences received rulers as souvenirs which measured 13 and a half inches long.
- The movie character played by M.C. Gainey was, in real life, LAPD vice cop Tom Blake. Years before the Wonderland incident, Holmes served as an informant to Blake, in return for not being prosecuted on pimping and pandering charges.
- The gold ring that Val Kilmer wore on a chain throughout the movie was the actual wedding band that John Holmes gave to his wife Sharon Holmes. Sharon loaned the ring to Kilmer for good luck. After filming was over, Sharon then gave the ring to Dawn Schiller.