Wonderland James Cox

Wonderland James Cox
Wonderland is a perfect example of America's perverse views on sex and violence. Sex isn't a normal activity to be explored or enjoyed in American life; it's only a tease, a sell to be used to lure in customers. Violence is what the customers get. In the case of Wonderland, the sexy sell is the involvement of porn king John Holmes (Val Kilmer) in four murders that took place in July 1981, and it's true, he was somehow involved. Wonderland tries to make a mystery out of what that exact involvement was, attempting to elevate sketchy recollections into a Rashomon-style web of lies, but there's isn't enough interest in the people involved to sustain this flimsy conceit. You see, the one thing Wonderland cannot do — for financing or other reasons — is tell the fascinating story in front of its nose, and that's the story of John Holmes, a skinny, confused kid destroyed by the money, drugs and power that accompanied his rise in porn. If you want to see that movie, P.T. Anderson already made it — his Boogie Nights was inspired by Holmes' life — and as a result, Wonderland comes across as the last 40 minutes of Nights turned into a feature. Interestingly, the rest of the DVD is also fascinated with Holmes — interview subjects love to analyse him and Court TV mini-docs want to understand him. But best yet in this limited two-disc edition is the inclusion of the 1998 full-length documentary Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes, which reveals him to be a wife-beating, police informing, chronically lying egomaniac long before Wonderland Ave. came into the picture. The feature itself is unsatisfying — how could they gloss over Holmes and his teenage girlfriend Dawn (a brunette Kate Bosworth) fleeing the law while stopping at every cheesy tourist trap along the way? — but the more that extras dance around the subject of Holmes, the more fascinating he becomes. But by far the most disturbing extra in DVD history is the inclusion of actual crime scene footage — including narration by an officer on the scene — of the brutal murders on Wonderland Ave. Plus: deleted scenes, commentary by James Cox and co-writer Captain Mauzner, production photos. (Lions Gate)