|B R I E F S Y N O P S I S|
|Once the biggest star in the hardcore industry—literally and figuratively—John C. Holmes (Val Kilmer) is now in a state of ruin, living with his teenage girlfriend (Kate Bosworth) while still married to his wife (Lisa Kudrow). In debt and desperate, Holmes agrees to set up his best friend for murder in order to save himself. Based on the true story of the 1981 Los Angeles Wonderland murders. Co-stars Christina Applegate, Josh Lucas, Eric Bogosian, Tim Blake Nelson, Janeane Garafolo and Carrie Fisher. Directed and co-written by James Cox.|
This happened. I'd watched the LAPD Wonderland crime scene tape almost eighteen months ago. That was in February of 2001, and it was now July of 2002, and I still couldn't shake those words. And the reality, the truth, the realness of Wonderland was approaching me at sixty miles an hour. I was on the road to Point Arena, a small town on the Mendocino coastline—four hours north of San Francisco—to a meeting I'd been anticipating for over a year. My producer Holly Wiersma sat beside me, the script that writing partner Captain Mauzner and I had written was in my lap, and we were en route to meet Dawn Schiller, John Holmes' teenage girlfriend at the time of the murders. It had taken a lot of emails and eventually many late night phone conversations before Dawn was willing to even give me her address, much less grant me the invitation to come visit.
We wrote the early drafts of Wonderland based on transcriptions and interviews with second and third party participants, and we knew quite well the law-enforcement side of the story. John was a scumbag, a liar, a base-head—everyone had agreed—but hindsight's 20/20, right? And he got over on everyone. They had him dead to rights, and he'd gotten off. If you looked at the path to his acquittal, it's hard to believe a man so gacked to the gills could possibly pull it off—he must've been one hell of a charmer…
Dawn still loved him. From the tone in her voice on the phone, you could tell there was unfinished business, something she hadn't said in the interviews, something that still needed to be shared. We met, and of course it was awkward for a second, placing a face to a voice that had been in my head long before I'd ever heard her speak. She sat down in a restaurant on the ocean and read a new scene we had written, a conversation that never happened, one between Dawn and John's estranged wife Sharon that needed to be in the movie to help define this bizarre mother-son/lover-daughter triangle. And I watched this woman, in reality a stranger, but in my mind a close confidant, and I watched her read our rendition of her most traumatic memories and that tingle I'd gotten up the back of my neck seeing the blood on the walls returned.
Fuck… This happened. It was clear this guy had been a vortex of energy, his spiralling chaotic trajectory had affected everything in his path, and living proof sat in front of me. Her eyes were all glassy when she finished and she turned to Holly and me and said, "Gosh, it's like you know me." And I've never been more humbled in my life. I felt an utter conviction that this movie had to happen, this confession had to be delivered, the truth had to be told. From that point forward, there was no B-plan, there was no other project, no script job, nothing but Wonderland.
Dawn introduced us to Sharon, and Sharon eventually gave me her wedding ring, which I eventually gave to Val Kilmer. Four months later during production I remember standing in Val's trailer, Dawn and Sharon sitting on the couch, the ring around his neck, and the trailer walls were covered with Wonderland. Photos and stencils and writing, graffiti, bloody palm prints on script pages, Val had literally exploded outward, covering his surroundings with the movie, and I had the distinct feeling I was looking out from the inside of John's soul. And yet again I got that tingle… This happened.
©2004 Landmark Theatres