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The Wonderland Murders

USA 2003
produced by
Michael Paseornek, Holly Wiersma, Peter Block (executive), Michael Burns (executive), Marc Butan (executive), Randall Emmett (executive), George Furla (executive), Peter Kleidman (executive), Tom Ortenberg (executive), Julie Yorn (executive) for Lionsgate
directed by James Cox
starring Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth, Dylan McDermott, Lisa Kudrow, Josh Lucas, Tim Blake Nelson, Eric Bogosian, Christina Applegate, M.C.Gainey, Carrie Fisher, Ted Levine, Janeane Garofalo, Louis Lombardi, Franky G, Rusell Sams, Chris Cioffi, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Scoot McNairy, Julianne Steiger, Tess Parker, George Leonardopolous, Faizon Love, Joleigh Fioreavanti, Michelle Borth, Chris Ellis, Paris Hilton, Kim Marriner, Karen LaKritz, Stephanie Roth Haberle, Steve Cox, David Solimini
written by James Cox, Captain Mauzner, Todd Samovitz, D.Loriston Scott, music by Cliff Martinez

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Based on a real life murdercase, the so called Wonderland murders (christened after the avenue where it happened), which did involve robbery, drugs & real life porn star John Holmes.

After his career in porn came to a (temporary, as history would show) end, John Holmes (Val Kilmer) & his girl Dawn (Kate Bosworth) spend their time drifting through cheap motels, spending their time with small thefts, drugdealing & drugtaking. One day, John stays away from home (which is a cheap motel room) longer than usual, & he comes back seriously high but also deeply disturbed. A short time later, Dawn sees a report about quadruple homicide on the news, at a house she & John had just been to a couple of days ago ...

When the police investigating the murder scene, the house on Wonderland avenue, they stumble over biker David Lind (Dylan McDermott), worried out of his mind since his girlfriend was among the victims, & ready to confess to the cops. Accoring to him, a stoned out of his brain John Holmes set them up to rob Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian) of his drugs & dirty money, which immediately seemed a bad idea to him, since Eddie was a big time nightclub owner with some clout & connections to the mob. Still, they - that being David, Ron (Josh Lucas) & Billy (Tim Blake Nelson) - did the job & even succeeded. When it came to sharing the loot at the house in Wonderland Avenue, though, & John, who didn't actually participate in the crime other than leaving a door at Nash's house open for them, gets less than he had expected, starts a fight that ends with him rushing off. & according to David's logic, John did later come back to collect the rest of the loot, & kill all his friends in the process, except for David who had been out rather coincidently.

The police are now searching for Holmes, who first gives them shit about wanting to go on the witness protection program with both Dawn & his wife Sharon (Lisa Kudrow), who doesn't want to have anything to do with him though, before telling the police his version of the story - that wouldn't qualify him for the program, though, as it is full of holes: according to him, Ron, David & Billy forced him to get them access to Nash's house, after some deal with Nash went foul, & after they had successfully robbed him, Holmes foolishly returned to Nash, believing if he showed up there, Nash wouldn't suspect him. Nash however has already figured out Holmes' involvement himself, & forces him to get him entrance into the house on Wonderland Avenue. Other than that, John claims, he knows nothing ...

& that's all the police have to go on, neither do they know that John sold his girl Dawn to Eddie Nash as a prostitute, nor that he after the crime came to Sharon's place, covered in blood, nor can they get a testimony of Ron's wife Susan (Christina Applegate), who did survive the ordeal at Wonderland avenue badly injured - & who saw how Holmes, forced at gunpoint, did participate in the killings ...


A film about John Holmes without nudity ???

It seems rather obvious that director Cox was not to much at ease with the sleazy aspects of the movie & rather downplays them to get a family-friendly rating - makes you wonder why he did make a film about John Holmes in the first place then.

Apart from that though, Wonderland proves to be an interesting true-story crime thriller, that avoids falling into the same trap as most other true storie films, that is telling its tale from just one perspective & presenting it as the truth (however distorted). Of course, the method of telling a story from different perspectives & getting a different version of the truth is not really new (& if you think Rashomon, you are of course right, it didn't take a genius to figure that one out, though), still it does give the story an interesting spin.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD