October 3, 2003
John Holmes is legendary in the world of porn. His swollen member wouldn't completely fit in a foot-long hot dog bun, yet he claimed to have found 14,000 women (and hundreds of men) who were only too willing to lodge it in their various body cavities. While even today, men in the industry are virtual unknowns, Holmes managed such a legendary reputation in the 1970s that his life is the inspiration for the Dirk Diggler character in Boogie Nights. While Paul Thomas Anderson might have taken a more gentle look at the industry, Wonderland will show a much bleaker series of events.
John Holmes wasn't always able to make a living in adult films. Quite the opposite, he became such a cracked out junkie in the late ‘70s that he was unable to maintain an erection, the *ahem* life's blood of his profession. Forced from his livelihood, Holmes became a pusher, a drug runner for the hoods who made a living dealing with the wealthy residents of Laurel Canyon, a suburb of Los Angeles. They were known as the Wonderland Gang. Their seemingly innocent stucco house at 8763 Wonderland Avenue is the place where all of the film's horrors occur.
John Holmes was arrested on January 14, 1981 for computer theft. This crime was yet another attempt to gain money to pay for his drug habit. He was bailed out by one Adel Nasrallah, who was also known as Eddie Nash. They had become friends because the porn star was fascinated by the man's evil nature to the point that he wanted to be around the guy to see what he would do next. This mistake would haunt him. For his part, Nash was drawn to the mystique of the living legend sex machine who had made 500K a year during his prime in an industry where most men were being paid in $20 bills. The fact that Nash also never left his home yet was always known for having a stash of drugs and weapons was the double-edged sword which joined the men together in history.
John Holmes was driven by his demons to the point that when the Wonderland Gang scored a supply of cocaine, he went through all of it before they realized what he had done. One of the three pushers, Ron Launius, mercilessly beat Holmes with a walking cane for his transgression. The other two, Billy Deverell and Joy Miller, wondered aloud how he would re-pay his debt to them.
John Holmes remembered that his associate Eddie Nash always had a stash of cash. In a drug-addled haze, he decided that he could play the two parties against each other by setting Nash up for a precision criminal strike by the Wonderland Gang. He was to go and party with the man as he so often did, but that night he would leave the door unlocked so that the thugs could get the drop on the other pusher with the seemingly infinite supply. If this sequence of events sounds familiar to you, it should. It is in fact the loose basis for the "Jessie's Girl/Descent into Hell" sequence from Boogie Nights. Reading between the lines, the heist did not go perfectly. Launius put his gun in Nash's mouth and forced the Lebanese assassin to beg for his life. There was also a struggle which saw Nash's massive bodyguard, Greg Diles, get shot in the back. After the gang had left, Nash obsessed over how this could have happened. As the pieces were put together, he sussed out that Holmes had set him up.
John Holmes, like Eddie Nash, begged for his life that day. But he also was forced to beg for the life of his wife, Sharon, along with his mistress, Dawn Schiller, the 19-year-old girl who he had been dating since he had deflowered her at the age of 15. In exchange for their lives, Holmes was forced to watch Nash take his complete revenge upon the Wonderland Gang. While never convicted of the crime, police re-constructed the events of the day to indicate that Nash and some associates repeatedly bludgeoned the five people he believed to be responsible for his robbery. Notably, the police used videotape to record footage of the crime scene for the first time in order to most completely convey the horror of the slayings. The tape shows indescribable amounts of blood in the house. Amazingly, one of the victims survived the onslaught though she suffered permanent brain damage from the events. The rest were gruesome victims of slow, torturous revenge.
John Holmes watched it all happen.
John Holmes was the first male porn star, but you should not confuse Wonderland with a porno flick. It's the true story of a wife beating, pedophiliac drug addict who makes a poor decision one day and winds up living inside an all-too-real nightmare. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Vital statistics for Wonderland
Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth, Christina Applegate, Lisa Kudrow, Dylan McDermott
Carrie Fisher, Josh Lucas, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Eric Bogosian, Janeane Garofalo, Ted Levine, Tim Blake Nelson, Franky G, M.C. Gainey
James Cox, Captain Mauzner, Todd Samovitz, D. Loriston Scott
||Click Here for Trailer
||Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture
Comparison films for Wonderland
|Ghost and the Darkness, The
|Island of Dr. Moreau
|At First Sight
|People Versus Larry Flynt, The
|Salton Sea, The