In 1981, Los Angeles police discovered a horrific bloody quadruple homicide and one in critical condition found on Wonderland Drive. Thus, known as the infamous Wonderland Murders. All the victims were brutally beaten with lead or steel pipes. They were also known as drug dealers and users, recently stealing from and beating a bigger drug dealer. Surrounding these unanswered murders was famous porn star John Holmes who was involved with both sides of the criminals. WONDERLAND follows these events through statements from John Holmes and David Lind, one member of the surviving gang.
The major problem with WONDERLAND is that there is no sympathetic good person to root for. Every character is a bad person. Maybe I’m cold hearted and should be a little more sympathetic. But I can’t help not caring. These were two groups of criminals, who were into drugs and murder, harming each other. Did they deserve the brutal punishment that was received? NO. Did they deserve to be locked away? Definitely. Look, I think what happened to these people is sad and horrible but I can’t pretend to invest energy and tension into people who continually harm themselves and others. And I don’t think they deserved a movie made about them.
With that being said the construction of the film was good enough to almost fool me into being entertained. The structure was smart and the style was captivating. At first, it was a bit slow moving but once the film got going and we discover we were only looking at one version of the story, it got a bit more interesting. I think they should have split the confession times more evenly but it did help with a faster paced ending.
All of the actors involved bring their A game. Specifically Val Kilmer as Holmes who is simply amazing. Kilmer has proven his talent and really should try to get himself out there and loved by the public and filmmakers again. Dylan McDermott as Lind is another standout who is barely recognizable. He is a far cry from his clean-cut days on the Practice as a threatening tough biker criminal. Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, Tim Blake Nelson, Lisa Kudrow and Eric Bogosian all turned in other great performances. Unnecessary casting included Christina Applegate, Janeane Garofalo and Carrie Fisher.
WONDERLAND wisely doesn’t delve too deeply into Holmes porn life and focuses strictly on the murders. Movies strictly about people getting high and living the drug life world have become a complete bore. The stylization made up for the lack of progressive storyline. But a movie about a cocaine abusing, pathological liar who treats women terribly while being involved with the murder of other people with a similar resume is not appealing in the least.
Video: (1080p High Definition 16×9 Widescreen 1.78:1) The picture is sharp and clear.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The sound is of excellent quality.
Commentary with James Cox and Captain Mauzner: Commentaries are only interesting depending on your like of the film. They were informative but it was a run of the mill commentary.
Interviews (4:39): Val Kilmer, Josh Lucas, Tim Blake Nelson, Eric Bogosian each shortly discuss their thoughts on the characters they play.
Deleted Scenes (10:08): 7 short scenes either deleted or extended that are more of the same just plugging in spots that were already implied. One is a weird comedy routine adlibbed by Janeane Garofalo.
LAPD Crime Scene Footage (23:41): The actual footage the LAPD took during their investigation directly following the murders. They show everything, all the blood and the real dead bodies as they were. I’m very surprised this was OK to be seen and do not recommend for those easily disturbed.
Hollywood at Large- Court TV (5:45): A quick rundown of the story of John Holmes and his involvement with the murders paralleled with the movie and interviews from cast, and the real people involved.
WADD- The Life and Times of John C. Holmes (1:45:22): A documentary about the porn star and his affect on the porn industry. It contains lots of interviews with many people who worked Holmes including Paul Thomas Anderson director of BOOGIE NIGHTS. Some things people said about him were the exact opposite or contradicted what others said. He definitely lied and Val Kilmer made his character seem far more likeable. Overall, Holmes seems like a horrible human being.