| October 12, 2003

Just when you think you have seen enough drug movies complete with stock traits like fast editing, strange graphics and confusing plot lines, director James Cox unveils yet another in this genre as he attempts to outline the story of porn ledged John Holmes. While this film lacks originality in its style, the actors involved truly manage to evoke an odd sense of emotional attachment as the audience begins to find characters to root for.
John Holmes, played by the aging Val Kilmer (Tombstone), has lived his porn career to its extent and turning to the other vices of his industry, has managed to become a major player in a ring of thieves, drug dealers and as the story unfolds, murderers too. With his significantly younger girlfriend by his side, played by the stunning Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush), Holmes has one reason to live, but plenty of reasons not to as he gets caught up in the famous “Wonderland Murders.” The film unfolds the plot in three basic sections through the testimonies of David Lind, Holmes himself, and the sole survivor of the Wonderland murders.
Biker David Lind (Dylan McDermott, Three to Tango), turns himself in to the police in order to tell his story in which Holmes has murdered his friends and the love of his life in order to get his revenge for receiving the little compensation for his involvement in the planned hit on LA club owner Eddie Nash played by Eric Bogosian (Deconstructing Harry). According to this first version of the events which occurred at the wonderland house, Holmes was present and helped Nash’s men gain entry to the house in order to commit the gruesome murders.
Following Lind’s lead, Holmes is arrested, and he wants to make a deal. If he is granted immunity, and is allowed to take his girlfriend and estranged wife Sharon (Lisa Kudrow, Analyze This) into the witness protection program, he is willing to tell his tale; one that differs significantly from Lind’s. Holmes claims that he was forced into the Nash robbery, and then ratted out for the deed. Nash, threatens to kill Holmes’ family if he won’t find and help kill the robbers. According to Holmes’ story, in order to protect his family, he fingered the culprits, and left before any of the murders took place making him only a minor accomplice in any of the crimes.
What we assume to be the real story emerges through Sharon’s well timed flashbacks, and the testimony of the sole surviving Wonderland victim, played by the barely recognizable Christina Applegate (The Sweetest Thing). This third version implicates Holmes’ interaction with both Nash and the Wonderland Gang. Not only is Holmes forced to turn in his friends for robbing the Nightclub mogul, but he is also forced to personally beat one of the criminals to death with a lead pipe. After cleaning up at his wife’s house, Holmes returns to his girlfriend and goes about his business.
With the three conflicting stories, and no real concrete evidence to place Holmes in the Wonderland house during the murders, the cops are forced to release the porn king. In celebration, he finally manages to make good on the promise to whisk his girlfriend away from LA, and the pair leave under fake names, to hide in Florida.
Confused yet? While the flashbacks and multiple storylines create a mild bewilderment producing a smoke screen around the truth of what actually happened, it is this same uncertainty that draws the audience in as no one in the film is completely clear as to what transpired at the Wonderland house either. Mumbled dialogue through loud music and parties add to the realism of the film, but also contributes to the confusion as lines are dropped and conversations missed in the din of strange sound mixing.
While the film doesn’t exactly convey a straight forward plotline, the actors involved manage to make this film very watchable. In addition to wonderful performances by Kilmer and Bosworth, Josh Lucas and Tim Blake Nelson very effectively bring to life two burned out junkies, and Eric Bogosian is truly scary in his performance as Eddie Nash. Through these actors, the film gives just the right amount of character development giving the audience permission to love and hate everyone in this film.
Whether or not this story holds any truth to the life of the real John Holmes, it is at least entertaining. While many of the story’s questions are left unanswered, the actors evoke true emotion as the characters’ lives are quickly shattered. This film is not groundbreaking, but definitely worth watching.

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