Movie review

Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth, Lisa Kudrow Josh Lucas, Dylan McDermott
Directors : James Cox

WonderlandIn the 1970s, John Holmes became the most legendary male porn star of all time, due in no small part to his far from small part. Myth surrounding the size of Holmes' gift estimated it to be as large as 15 inches, though Holmes himself once claimed to have measured it at nearer 10 inches. Despite making around 2000 films throughout his porn career, Holmes managed to fritter away his fortune in spectacular fashion, with drugs lending more than a little help to his downfall. The bigger they are, as they say . . .

Wonderland tells the true-life story of four gruesome murders that took place in a house on Hollywood's Wonderland Avenue during the early 1980s. At first, it appeared that the murders were merely the bloody outcome of just another drugs war going on in Hollywood's seedy underbelly. However, when news broke that John Holmes was somehow involved - by this time, his career over and his dependency on drugs completely out of control - interest in the story was inevitably piqued. What that link actually was is what Wonderland attempts to explore.
    Holmes was arrested six months after the killings, but was acquitted the following year. In 1988, a notorious drug lord called Adel Nasrallah, known around Hollywood as Eddie Nash, was charged with carrying out the murders, but in 1990 he was also released after a court trial resulted in a hung jury. He was however imprisoned in 2001 on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit the Wonderland murders, for which he served just eight months due to ill health.

Val Kilmer does a brilliant job as the sleazy fuck-up John Holmes, with a performance reminiscent of his portrayal of the Lizard King in The Doors, though it is different enough not to be a rehash. It is a shame, watching Wonderland, to think of the time that an actor as talented as Kilmer has wasted in the wilderness. If stories are to be believed, this was down to how difficult he was/is to work with, and for a spell the only roles going his way were in utter rubbish like The Saint. Still, given the strength of his turn in Wonderland, this should certainly signal the start of a comeback.
    Kate Bosworth, one of the finer actresses from Hollywood's current crop of brat packers, is also great, playing the part of Holmes' self-destructively love-struck teenage girlfriend, and there are several solid support performances from the likes of Dylan McDermott, Josh Lucas and Carrie Fisher. Lisa Kudrow gives a dignified performance as Holmes' estranged and disillusioned wife Sharon that more than illustrates there is life after Friends, and Eric Bogosian is notable as the corrupt druglord Eddie Nash.

With a strong ensemble cast and a highly intriguing story in place, James Cox delivers a powerful and visually interesting film that stays reasonably close to the events in question whilst at the same time offering its own slant on the what actually happened on that fateful night on Wonderland Avenue.

:: Philip Goodfellow

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