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  • John 3:26 pm on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bill lee,   

    Nash Crony Tricks Woman & Then Assaults Her 

    This blog article is pretty seedy and quite sad. It deals with the assault of a young lady during the early 80s. Much like the lovely Julia Densmore-Negron who shared some of her experiences in the Wonderland realm a few weeks ago, this young lady was a Hollywood-connected girl who also has a Wonderland-related story to tell. This time it’s from a book.

    I won’t publish the book name or tell you the person because this post is not to publicize that, only that she calls out Ed’s crony. Sad, but if you want to read the entire book, I will send you the link. She was a model back in the day, and also worked in TV, and like Julia, was seen with some of the major Hollywood players and music stars of the time (and married a few). Post a note or email the blog for the link. You can read her entire book online for free. It’s a great story.

    The foreword to this part of the story is that, this man Bill Lee, had a big thing for her, would bug her around town, etc. and one night at a club or party, he tricked her by saying he cut his hand really bad and was holding a rag on it. She offered him a ride to the hospital, and once in the car, he made her drive to her home at knife-point, where he assaulted her. Sounds like a nightmare. Her book is lengthy, and I read it over the weekend but could not find the page that details that part, not that you need to see it.

    Here’s what happened next:

    The good thing about most of Nash's bro's is that they're probably all dead or in prison by now.

    The good thing about most of Nash’s bro’s is that they’re probably all dead or in prison by now.

    Cops make no sense sometimes. Best to defend yourself with a piece or die tryin'.

    Cops make no sense sometimes. Best to defend yourself with a piece or die tryin’.

     

     
    • criticextraordinaire 9:39 pm on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      She should have called the same cop that Sharon Holmes did, when she needed a dead body to disappear from her place.

      • scabiesoftherat 12:11 am on October 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        That’s a real scumbag…and it’s a sad indictment of the world today. When are cops gonna learn that you only call cops AFTER the smoke settles. Why can’t they wrap that around thier heads around that? I have a gun for the same reason. Ain’t no one taking me down without a fight. And I can’t really make a phone call when the dude is in my house, can I? Just so stupid….

        Hey John. What’s the title of the Julia Densmore/ Negron piece? I missed that one. That one escapes me. Thanks

    • Janice 12:25 pm on June 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      yes! I would loveto read her book, please send the link. Thank You and Thank you for all your hard work….can’t wait for your book!

  • John 1:57 pm on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , israeli mob, ,   

    A Former Nash Employee Provides Clarity 

    This tidbit comes as a bookend to the Dominic Fragomeli story but opens up a world of possibilities. I did a blog post about Dom a few months ago. This incident occurred in November, 1981. Diles had his shootout with the cops during the July raid. Check the Wonderland Timeline:

    November 25, 1981

    Police search Nash’s home for a second time after the drug overdose death of a guest (24 yr old Dominic Fragomell who had been living at the home for 5 months). Cops find more than 2 lbs. of cocaine and heroin, quaaludes, and opium. Nash and Diles are arrested on narcotics charges. Both men had been on bail from the July 10 raid and arrest.

    A young man that worked at one of Ed’s clubs back in the day, will most likely be providing the blog with a few stories from time to time. Here’s what he sent me today.

    I lived at G’s house in Studio City at the time. (manager of one of Ed’s businesses). I know ALL KINDS of stuff! (I knew) Dominic and Mazzechelli, Dom’s girlfriend, Dezi, and all the rest. Dominic’s death was the excuse the cops needed to get past Ed’s political connections so they could conduct the raid. When the raid happened, Something very surprising was found in a back bedroom. Spelling is probably not correct but I’ll try. “Adnom Bashion”. Titular head of the Israeli mob (with a 15 year old girl). Israeli mob hits had a signature.. SPLATTER!  connect the dots?

    Wonderland.

    I have also reached out to private eye, Nils Grevillius.

    Stay tuned…

     
    • John 2:17 pm on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I believe the man he’s referring to is Amnon Bachahiam, 48 years old in 1981. Amnon only comes up on this site, when you do a Google search.

    • switzerland avenue 3:07 pm on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Oh boy! This blog is getting better and better each day.

  • John 9:57 am on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: murder house,   

    Fate Of A Murder House 

    I forgot about some of these infamous crimes… I don’t think I have ever lived anywhere where a murder has occurred, I’m only suspicious of hotel rooms. They’re always wheeling bodies out of hotels. If you bring your own Luminol, you better hope that’s urine!

    Fate of a Murder House

    by Sheree R. Curry | AOL Real Estate.com | Febrary 11, 2010

    The addresses could be in Any Town, USA where anyone might want to live: 2854 Robert Drive. 965 Fifth Ave. 215 Missouri St. Or 4250 Faria Road.

    The 3-bedroom, 2-bath foreclosure home on Faria Road in Ventura, Calif., for example, has a brick fireplace and built-in bookshelves, as well as wood floors and stainless appliances in the kitchen. There is an open-beam ceiling living room with lots of natural light from patio windows overlooking 44-feet of ocean frontage. But you might want to think twice before you put an offer on this home or any of the others. That’s because behind all of their doors, gruesome murders occurred.

    What is the fate of a murder house once the blood splatters are cleaned, the crime scene tape is discarded and the media cameras are gone? And how would you know if that dream home you’re eyeing was once the scene of a grisly crime?

    The fact is, you probably wouldn’t, but there are ways to find out.

    About half of the states in the U.S. have formal seller disclosure laws, and for many of them sellers and their agents do not have to disclose if there was a murder on the premises unless the buyers ask. And even then, typically they do not have to reveal it if the crime happened more than a year or so ago. Seller disclosure laws mostly focus on structural and material defects on the home, such as termites, mold and squeaky floorboards.

    If you’re the squeamish type and would like to avoid a house linked to a death, however, your best bet is to simply ask around. Neighbors generally would know if a home had been the scene of a grisly murder. You can also pull police records by address at the precinct serving that neighborhood. If anything looks suspicious, you can ask an officer for more details. These days, even a Google search of the address or “block of” can be revealing.

    The Faria house was on the market for $3.25 million in the days leading up to the May 20, 2009 fatal stabbings of a father and his pregnant wife, and there isn’t a buyer in the area who isn’t aware of that house’s stigma, the home’s former listing agent Gary Goldberg of Coastal Properties told HousingWatch.

    “The value of a murder house goes down dramatically, right away, like OJ Simpson’s house,” said Goldberg, whose agency also had the listing when the couple bought the house in 2006 for $2.57 million and subsequently gutted it and remodeled extensively. But no amount of renovations and price drops will make the home more appealing to most prospective buyers.

    The way most states look at it, though, is that if you’re creeped out knowing a murder or suicide occurred on a property, well, that’s your own issue.

    The National Association of Realtors has a name for psycho-laden places like these: stigmatized properties. The group has even published a “field guide for dealing with stigmatized properties.” Tainted real estate can be harder to sell, and the goal, of course, is to move properties for sellers and buyers. If a murder is disclosed, the home could take 5 percent longer than comparable homes to sell, and it could price at an average of about 3 percent less, according to an analysis of 100 “psychologically impacted houses” by Wright State University professors James E. Larsen, Ph.D. and Joseph W. Coleman.

    Recently sold is a 2-bedroom home with updated kitchen on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. It was the scene of a November 2008 murder-suicide, where the owner-boyfriend is suspected of shooting his girlfriend and then himself. He bought it for $985,000 and it sold for $894,500 in October. When the murder is more high-profile, the real estate impact can be more devastating. The Brentwood, Calif. home where Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered in 1994 hit the market the following year with a $795,000 price tag. It sat on the market for more than two years before selling for $595,000, ABC News reported.

    So, what might become of Nancy Kerrigan’s dad’s house since his strangulation at home last month at the hands of Kerrigan’s brother? Or Jennifer Hudson’s old family home after her mother and brother were fatally shot there? It is rumored she wants to sell the residence in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, but her sister still wants to live there.

    Whether heirs stay or shed these stigmatized homes, sometimes the addresses are legally changed, or the exterior given a facelift in an attempt to eliminate the blemish. Other homes were torn down, such as John Wayne Gacy’s suburban Chicago home, where he hid 29 victims in crawl spaces and the walls. The lot sat empty for a decade before a new home was built on the site. Jeffrey Dahmer’s Milwaukee apartment building, where he killed 17 people, was razed and still remains an empty lot, reported USA Today in 2006.

    Then there are the homes that become major tourist attractions, with the owners collecting fees to let people inside. Scott Michaels of findadeath.com, leads “Deadly Departed Tours” of celebrity-linked stigmatized homes, such as the one in this video of the “Wonderland House,” where four friends of porno star John Holmes were bludgeoned to death with lead pipes in Los Angeles, a crime that became known as the Laurel Canyon Murders.

    Under California law, a seller must disclose if a murder was committed within the last three years. But some agents feel a duty to reveal beyond what the state mandates. “We felt that we should disclose for a much longer time frame because of the stigma,” says Realtor Valerie Torelli, who has twice sold a murder house in Costa Mesa, CA. Plus, she adds, “you just know the neighbors would be over there the day the new people moved in letting them know about the past history.”

    Torelli’s first client didn’t care about the murder, which had occurred 18 months before. “There were several families that looked at it and would not consider it because of what happened there. Ultimately the property sold at full market value at the time, $729,000,” Torelli told HousingWatch. Her other client has renters in the murder home.

    For some, such as Dennis Fassett, murder houses spell opportunity. Fasset purchased a murder home in Mt. Clemens, Mich. “When the real estate market was really hot here in southeast Michigan back in 2005, it was difficult for new investors like me to find houses that would cash flow as rental properties,” he told HousingWatch. “I finally got a call from a motivated seller. He was motivated to sell because he was the heir after his brother had beaten their mother to death in the living room. I got a smoking great deal on the house, and it continues to be an extremely profitable rental for me,” he says.

    Fassett purchased the home for $40,000 in 2005, and it appraised three months later for $107,000. He says his renters don’t suspect a thing because he spoke to the neighbors about the value of keeping the information to themselves. “If they scared all the good tenants away, did they really want to live next to [those who] didn’t care what happened in the house?” he reasoned.

    If, like Fassett, you’re looking for a deal, hitting the market soon is the property at 2854 Robert Drive in a lakeside subdivision in Columbia, Ill., just outside of St. Louis.

    Wells Fargo, the bank that holds the mortgage on the house where Sheri Coleman, 31, and sons Garrett 11, and Gavin 9, were found strangled last May, filed court papers in January asking to take the property as a foreclosure, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The house, vacant since the crime, is owned by Christopher Coleman, who removed his wife’s name from the deed several months before the murders. He is in jail awaiting a possible March trial on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife and sons. The bank says he owes $229,673.69 plus interest on the home.

    Would you buy a murder home? Or have you? Let us know.

     
  • John 7:24 am on October 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: script, story,   

    About The Production Of Wonderland 

    This info was gleaned from Lion Gate’s Final Press Notes, which can be found here.

    I did not know that Max the chihuahua who played Thor in the movie belonged to Holly Wiersma, one of the producers of the film.

    ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

    WONDERLAND begins after Holmes’s career was washed-up, ended by his descent into drug addiction. To support his habit, Holmes befriended a number of dealers and criminals including the underworld kingpin Eddie Nash. Holmes owed Nash a fortune and supposedly masterminded a robbery at the dealer’s house, in which his friends from Wonderland Avenue purportedly stole $250,000 dollars worth of drugs, cash and jewelry. Nash reportedly discovered Holmes involvement and forced him to squeal on his friends, resulting in their murder. But the central mystery of the Wonderland murders — what was Holmes’ exact involvement? — remains elusive and has intrigued people for years, including director James Cox and producer Holly Wiersma.

    As director Cox says, “What always interested me in this project is that its true crime which has always been a passion of mine. But this was not just a murder story. There is also a unique love story, elevating this film above noir crime and making it universal.”

    To get to the heart of this love story, Cox, Wiersma and co-screenwriter Captain Mauzner tracked down Dawn Schiller, Holmes’s teenage girlfriend at the time of the murders, and his wife Sharon Holmes, a former nurse who remained married to Holmes even after his career choice effectively ended their relationship. Both women, who were friends then and are good friends now, served as consultants on the film, spending time on the set during production, sharing their insights into Holmes’ character and the era, and painting a very different picture of Holmes than one might imagine.

    As he learned from Schiller and Holmes, “John was a real romantic,” says Val Kilmer, who plays him in the film. “He loved his girlfriend and he was still friends with his wife. He definitely was a tortured soul who did a lot of awful things to everybody, betrayed every one he knew, every dealer he ever met, but, in a strange way, he remained absolutely loyal to Dawn and Sharon.”

    Kilmer was always the filmmakers’ first choice to play Holmes. His unique way of humanizing less-than-sympathetic characters, such as Jim Morrison in THE DOORS and Doc Holliday in TOMBSTONE, seemed perfect for the role. As producer Wiersma says, “Holmes is not very likable in the script so there has to be something about him that’s charming, to explain how he was able to instill such loyalty from both Dawn and his wife, Sharon, and every time Val smiles, you see that. Without his charm, it wouldn’t
    have worked.”

    Kilmer was less than convinced, though. The sordidness of the story and Holmes’ world turned him off and, despite pleas from the filmmakers and his agent, he refused to even read the script. Finally his agent and the filmmakers cooked up a plan. They asked Kilmer to consider the smaller part of Nash. Once Kilmer read the script, he quickly changed his mind and signed on for the lead.

    The presence on set of both Schiller and Holmes was a tremendous help and inspiration to the actresses portraying them in WONDERLAND. As Kate Bosworth, who plays Dawn, says, “She wasn’t just a cracked-out girl dating John Holmes. She was an innocent in a not-so-innocent world. And she loved him deeply.” As Schiller herself remembers, “I was fifteen when I met John. I came from a not very together background and he fed a lot of the things that I needed. He was my first love and very charming — he was like a kid in many ways himself and we really connected. And though things went
    bad, I’m able today to honor some of the good memories.”

    Seeing her past relived proved to be a very cathartic experience for Schiller, now a wife and mother who is at work on a book about her life with John. From the beginning, she had been impressed by the research the filmmakers had done and their commitment to getting the story straight. Says Schiller, “I really felt that it was going to be an honest portrayal, that the truth was going to be finally told.” She also enjoyed collaborating with Kate Bosworth who “was really open to listening to what my thoughts and feelings were at the time this was all happening. She, as well as Val and Lisa, have been very sensitive in honoring the feelings we had and very committed to telling the story with respect.”

    Sharon Holmes feels that “the best thing that came out of my relationship with John is Dawn. I was mature; I can understand her falling in love with him. She got the good and the bad of John. I had the good and I chose not to have the bad.” Sharon felt that Lisa Kudrow’s tough portrayal perfectly captured the woman she was. Says Kudrow, “Sharon, John and Dawn kind of lived like this content, untraditional family for a while. He kept them very separate and sheltered from his work — and then he developed the drug problem. Sharon Holmes was very straight and when she found out John was doing porno movies she cut him off,” she explains. “The script’s depiction of her is pretty accurate, so when I met with her it confirmed what a stoic a person she is; that she has rules and a code and she does not deviate from them.”

    Despite the sordidness of the film’s milieu, Kilmer sees WONDERLAND as both an unusual romance and a morality play: “it’s quite a vivid dramatization of what happens why you try to get satisfaction exclusively from the senses. It just doesn’t work.”

     
    • localarts 1:09 pm on October 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      “Holmes owed Nash a fortune and supposedly masterminded a robbery at the dealer’s house, in which his friends from Wonderland Avenue purportedly stole $250,000 dollars worth of drugs, cash and jewelry. Nash reportedly discovered Holmes involvement and forced him to squeal on his friends, resulting in their murder. But the central mystery of the Wonderland murders — what was Holmes’ exact involvement”?

      Yeah, pretty much sum’s it up. If I remember correctly Nash began associating with Holmes in 79 via Chris Cox. I don’t believe Holmes was completly washed up at this point or at least in debt to Nash then.
      Given Schiller’s time line when she used to wait for Holmes in front of the Wonderland house and when she came back from Oregon, Holmes was a “frequent house guest” at least four to six months prior to the robbery. Unless it can be corroborated, it’s virtually impossible to believe anything Holmes said about Wonderland.

      • criticextraordinaire 5:40 pm on October 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        It’s hard to corroborate things ANYBODY claims to have witnessed regarding Wonderland or Johnny C.

    • Jill C. Nelson 8:04 am on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This seems worth noting here: Speaking of Wonderland and Holmes, director Julia St. Vincent was present in court every day during Holmes’ trial and kept a daily journal. Cher Vinarde, an L.A. based long term ex of John’s (from ’73-’78 who had also taken his surname back in the day as his common-law wife) has within a treasure trove collection from her years with him, an astonishing mass of newspaper articles from the Wonderland period. Vinarde isn’t known to the public in the same way that JSV is but these two ladies have been sitting on their cache for decades and there’s potentially a lot of interesting stuff there.

  • John 10:32 am on October 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Wonderland Screen Captures and Images 

    These pics are just some images that are “flashed” briefly on screen and found elsewhere from videos and documentaries. Might as well make photos of them and post them on the web. Some show blood. You’ve been warned.

    The photo of Nash in his county blues while in the holding pen are from his 1988 arrest when he and Diles were charged with the murders. Diles is beside him, but not shown. There is a black and white, bleached out newsprint photo showing both of them and it is on the blog somewhere.

    The news guy reprises his role 23 years later in the 2003 film. I scoured the cast credits but could not find his name. He’s older of course, but that’s him in the movie.

    The actor, George Leonardopolous, who plays Tracy McCourt in the film is credited in the cast as playing a character named “Tommy Conway”. That leads me to believe that McCourt did not want to have his name associated with the film. Heck I don’t know. I think it was a little bit of both fearing for his safety and not having his friends deaths glamorized in some movie.

    Does anybody know much about Nils Grevilius? He was a cop, I guess, and was involved with Souza and Lange’s book “Four on the Floor”? He is credited in the film as “Weapons Training”.

    I’m chasing another interview also. Stay tuned.

     
    • localarts 12:32 pm on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I may be off base here but I believe Nils Grevilius was a private investigator. Grevilius collaborated with Lange & Souza on four on the floor. John, it may be worth trying to get in touch with this guy. I would like to see if he had a chance to interview Paul Kelly. Other than Nash himself, Kelly probably knows who the other killer’s were that night. He did after all take the fifth in the Nash trial.

  • John 8:19 am on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    The Nash House Used In The Film “Wonderland” 

    The Nash house used for the robbery scene in the film, Wonderland, is located in Beverly Hills at 1400 Laurel Way. At least the exterior shots were filmed here. The backyard has a killer view of the city.

    However, when the getaway scene was filmed, the director moved filming further down the hill on that street, so as to catch a better view of the city in the background. James Cox may have even used a camera trick or special effect to make that skyline appear larger/closer than it is with the naked eye. See below.

    Don’t forget to check the captions!

    Source:  

    http://www.itsfilmedthere.com/2010/06/wonderland.html

     
    • Bonnie Brae 10:13 am on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      A beautiful view of West LA.

    • Bonnie Brae 7:50 pm on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Those guys shouldn’t have done that to the Nash.

      • criticextraordinaire 6:31 am on October 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah they definitely boned up. They should have had John set them up with Eddie so they could have worked together. Eddie and Ronnie would have been unstoppable.

      • John W 2:12 pm on October 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        A guy like Nash is hit with schemes every day. People trying to dupe him or get money, etc. He would have given Ron & company a job. The Nash was so mad at what they did to him according to what Tom Lange told Julia Densmore-Negron, that WTF did they expect??

        • criticextraordinaire 3:19 pm on October 20, 2013 Permalink

          I never had a problem with Eddie sending a crew over to Wonderland to kick some ass. They had it coming, what did they expect. Now that said, the crew took things too far. They should have simply broken a Ronnie’s and Billy’s arms and legs and of course taken all the stuff back. Hitting the women was definitely out of bounds though.

          If Eddie had done this, his life would have been a lot less complicated. However, since Ronnie was blabbing all over town that he did the hit on Nash, maybe the crew felt they had to make an example of these guys and show no mercy. One thing’s for sure… nobody launched a home invasion of Eddie after that.

    • Bonnie Brae 7:52 pm on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I’m guessing that like the Brady House they got their fair share of lookie lou’s and had to put up the iron gate.

      • John W 2:06 pm on October 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I think I live in a murder house. The cat will sit in the guest bathroom and meow his ass off while just staring at the shower. I’m like WTF and now I close the door.

        • Bobby 4:16 am on October 21, 2013 Permalink

          Have you noticed how the Nash house used in “Wonderland” is very similar to the exterior of Molina’s house in “Boogie Nights”? Even the street and the slant of the hill it’s on is almost the same too!

  • John 12:48 pm on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , james cox,   

    Director Works Actual Site Of Notorious L.A. Murders Into Creepy ‘Wonderland’ 

    Wow, this is such a great article full of stuff that I did not know. Also, don’t be afraid to email the blog, there are tons of things I’m finding everyday, but that doesn’t mean I have it all yet.

    I am very glad that I never sent any letters to the house. Not that I am not a “crime solving kook” :-) but I was tempted before in order to get some photos of the interior. I can’t believe they receive letters at the house, and that’s probably been going on for years, and probably still goes on.

    Also, I did not realize James Cox was only 28 when filming the movie. When I was 28, I was still living in my mother’s basement (not).

    The band that was living there during this interview was not “LMFAO”, the crazy rappers who made those YouTube videos and stuff. I Googled the guys mentioned and they are a real rock band, and not just bubblegum rappers like LMFAO. It’s cool that they let Cox use the house for parts of the movie. We had discussed that here on the blog before.

    Enjoy! Have a great weekend~

    Director Works Actual Site Of Notorious L.A. Murders Into Creepy ‘Wonderland’

    By Norma Meyer

    COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

    October 14, 2003

    HOLLYWOOD – Like a macabre tour guide, 28-year-old “Wonderland” director James Cox ambles through what he calls The Murder House, where the notorious L.A. multiple-slaying occurred that is the subject of his new true-crime film.

    It was in this hillside Laurel Canyon rental where four druggies died and a fifth was badly beaten in a 1981 revenge frenzy that involved porn star John Holmes. Cops compared it to the Manson bloodbath.

    “Ron was here,” says Cox, in blue flip-flops and cargo shorts, standing over the current resident’s twin bed with the gold throw spread. He raises his arms to simulate the vicious, lead-pipe bludgeoning that killed Ron Launius and severely injured his wife. “Susan gets hit there, and she flops over and survives.”

    One might think this would spook the guy who’s watching the mini-reenactment, since he now sleeps in the room every night. And especially since Mark Maher, 33, along with roommate and fellow band tour manager Mike Flynn, 27 – whose upstairs lair is where Billy DeVerell and Joy Miller were clubbed – didn’t know about the slaughter until after Flynn rented the infamous Wonderland Avenue white-stucco house two years ago.

    In the film that opens Friday, their home (the real exterior is shown, although the split-level interior, including the living room where 22-year-old Barbara Richardson died, was re-created on a Hollywood soundstage) is on the big screen, its corners crammed with drug partiers, its walls covered with blood.

    “It’s a little weird,” says Maher, noting that crime-solving kooks send letters and teenage girls recently knocked on the door and asked to come in.

    Cox understands the lure of wickedness. It’s why Val Kilmer, cast as cocaine-addicted, hard-core has-been Holmes, got so into his seamy character that he decorated his movie trailer with fake bloody palm prints and collages of the late porn king.

    It’s why Sharon Holmes, a now-retired, straight-laced R.N. who’s played by Lisa Kudrow and who was estranged from John after he became X-rated Johnny Wadd, gave Cox her wedding band before shooting began.

    “Everybody was creeped out,” recalls Sharon, 59, who was an adviser on the film. “I said, ‘I have something I believe is a good omen.’ “

    On and off-camera, Kilmer wore the ring, inscribed with the couple’s initials, around his neck on a chain.

    “Wonderland” explores the homicides from several perspectives, including that of Holmes, the “Boogie Nights” inspiration who died in 1988 at age 43 of AIDS-related complications. After his death, Sharon said he had confessed his role. But a jury in 1982 acquitted him of any involvement in the killings, a payback for a $1 million robbery Holmes set up for his Wonderland pals at the home of nightclub owner and drug dealer Eddie Nash. (Nash was acquitted in the murders in a 1991 retrial after his first trial ended in a hung jury. He later admitted bribing the lone holdout with $50,000. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges, including conspiracy to commit the Wonderland murders and served eight months in prison).

    The subplot of this depravity is the unlikely nurturing alliance between Sharon and Holmes’ teenage girlfriend, Dawn Schiller (played by Kate Bosworth). Still close, Sharon and Schiller, now 42, married and the mother of a 3-year-old, chat with each other almost daily on the phone.

    “My daughter calls her Nana Sharon,” says Schiller, a former L.A. legal secretary who lives in the Pacific Northwest and is pursuing her real estate license.

    The story of the women – one childlike and vulnerable, the other maternal but resolute – is the reason that Kilmer, after months of turning it down, took the role. About 20 other leading men, including Matt Dillon, Vince Vaughn and Willem Dafoe, rejected the part because “the character was less than admirable,” Cox says, putting it mildly.

    For a time, it seemed the Lions Gate indie, which Cox co-wrote from an existing script, might not get made. But then Cox, who with tousled, spiky hair and wire-rim glasses looks like a college kid, is one of those Hollywood stories. At 23, based on a 10-minute short, “Atomic Tabasco,” and before even graduating New York University film school, he was picked to direct the New Line movie, “Highway,” starring Jared Leto and Selma Blair. It went straight to video, and Cox went straight to “movie jail.”

    “Wonderland,” which Cox says shot in 23 days for under $5 million, was his next big chance.

    Raised in the Bay Area, he knew nothing about Holmes or the murders until he rented a documentary from a video store, which included LAPD footage of the crime scene. “The hair went up on the back of my neck,” says Cox, sipping coffee at a Sunset Boulevard cafe earlier in the afternoon. “Five minutes after I turned it off, I said, ‘I have to do this movie.’ “

    He recalls with awe how Kilmer early on took the script to Oscar-winning “Chinatown” screenwriter Robert Towne, who made some suggestions. And after it was shot, “Val brought the film up to Napa, which was incredible, and the Godfather took a look at it.” Cox means Francis Ford Coppola.

    The big coup was getting Schiller to participate. Crucial to the story was her relationship with Holmes, whom she met when she was 15 and he was 32 and with Sharon. In the movie, Holmes clearly loves his wife and Dawn, the latter who lets him physically abuse and prostitute her because she’s more addicted to him than drugs and believes he will turn around.

    What the film doesn’t show is what happened after the two fled to Florida, the movie’s last scene. The couple lived in a transient hotel, and Schiller, again subjected to beatings and prostitution, turned Holmes in. Fearful for her life, she moved to Thailand, where she lived for seven years, attending school and obtaining a degree in gemology.

    Cox e-mailed Schiller for two months before she agreed to meet him in a coffee shop near her home, then in Northern California. “For years, I tried to run from any connections to the past,” she says. “This was not the stuff I wanted people to hear about.”

    But Cox convinced her he only wanted to get their relationship right. “It meant more to me to discuss the love,” Schiller says.

    Schiller was on the set daily offering actors insight and reliving her past; Sharon, who had been awaiting Dawn’s decision to sign on, showed up during Kudrow’s scenes.

    In the meantime, Sharon, who lives in L.A., never remarried or had children, was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Always the protector, she made sure that Kilmer returned her wedding ring, which Dawn wanted to keep for good karma. Cox brought it to Schiller the night of the movie’s premiere.

    The story’s darkness – which initially made it hard to find a lead – attracted the film’s other actors, says Cox, including Dylan McDermott, Josh Lucas, Carrie Fisher and Janeane Garofalo (who originally wanted to play Sharon). Christina Applegate, who is cast as Susan Launius, the survivor who couldn’t identify her assailants because of massive head injuries, wanted in because the case was L.A. lore.

    “She said, ‘I grew up around the corner from the murder house, and I remember driving by when I was 8 and seeing the bloody mattresses,’ ” Cox says.

    Finally, it got to him. Cox says he “bawled” when he added the guttural sound mix to the murder scene. He thought about the autopsy photos. And about Sharon and Dawn. He says, “in front of the camera, off-camera, during the filming, after the filming,” the immersed Kilmer also sobbed.

    It was lowbrow evil. It was two decades ago.

    But says Cox, as he winds up Wonderland Avenue in a car toward The Murder House, “This happened.”

    “That this was true Los Angeles-noir was like, ohhh,” he sighs. “Can you get much better than that?”

     
    • dreamweaverjenn 4:10 am on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Awesome as always. This case has always affected me the same way that’s why I am fascinated by it, drawn to it, saddened by it, As a medium, I have felt the energy of 2 of the victims, the human side of them and the emotional pain that went with such a horrible, horrible death. Thank you for this blog. I always enjoy reading everything you post. Blessings, Jenn

      • John W 2:35 pm on October 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Yes Jenn, Kilmer did not want the role of Holmes… But his agent tricked him into trying for the Nash role, but he liked the story of Holmes so much that he didn’t want to pass it up! You wouldn’t believe the actors they offered Holmes role to– it’s crazy. Matt Dillon n shit. At least Kilmer sort of looks like him.

        • dreamweaverjenn 5:47 pm on October 20, 2013 Permalink

          Oh yeah, there’s NOBODY else that could have played that besides Val! No question!

    • Beth 3:07 pm on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      How could these people have not known about the murders?? Were they living under a rock?? That’s like when people moved into the Amityville house and said they’d never heard about those murders. Must have been to busy smoking crack to pay attention I guess.

    • Deb 8:55 pm on March 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting blog! I just happened to pick up Dawn’s book and was fascinated by this story. There wasn’t much in her book though about the actual murders and being a true crime buff I had to see what I could find. I just ordered Wonderland and Boogie Nights and can’t wait till they arrive. Thanks for the info!

  • John 11:08 am on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    1984 Article: Jerry Vann was Nash’s Right Hand Man 

    This article is about the criminal hijinx of L.A. and Vegas tough guy, Gerald Van Hoorelbeke, aka Jerry Vann, aka VAN, aka VANN.

    This really is a pretty crazy article. And it is merely posted for entertainment purposes, because Vann is full of shit and because it seemed that everyone wanted a piece of the Nash, or at least to point the finger at him. When necessary, a prosecutor could say “the defendant knew Eddie Nash!”. Big deal. Lots of people did. I don’t know if you could call Ed an Israeli mafia boss either. He was a wealthy club owner with connections, despite wearing his speedo around the house and doing lots and lots of drugs.

    US DoJ officials Henderson and Crane later sued the Arizona Republic over this article alleging slander/libel. I don’t know if they won their case.

    Hey, can anyone find me a photo of Jerry Vann? I had no luck.

    Van was found guilty in June 1979 of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault, attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. He was identified in court records as the “right-hand man” of reputed Israeli Mafia boss Adel “Eddie Nash” Nasiallah.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, 1984

    U.S. CRIME STRIKE FORCE IN LA ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION

    By Jerry Seper

    Republic Staff

    LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Justice Department is investigating allegations of corruption and misconduct by high-ranking officials of the federal Organized Crime Strike Force, The Arizona Republic has learned.

    The probe, which is being conducted amid extraordinary secrecy, is aimed at James D. Henderson and Richard Crane, the current and former heads, respectively, of the strike force based in Los Angeles.

    The Justice Department investigation was requested by a congressional committee in the wake of its own secret, four-month probe, and it was outlined in a confidential letter to Attorney General William French Smith from Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control.

    “This committee recently received information concerning allegations of official corruption and dereliction of duty relating to narcotics enforcement in the Southwest area of the United States,” Rangel wrote in the Nov. 15, 1983 letter, a copy of which has been obtained by The Republic.

    “I bring this matter to your attention and strongly urge you to undertake a vigorous investigation.”

    The allegations of wrongdoing and misconduct involving strike-force officials were brought to the committee in September by a protected federal witness, Jerry Van, who is a former lieutenant of the Israeli Mafia in the Los Angeles area. This crime syndicate specializes in murder, arson, narcotics and pornography. The allegations are described in several confidential reports from committee investigators to Rangel and others.

    Van told the committee that Henderson and Crane were “unusually soft on organized crime and corruption” and testified that he knew of instances in which the two men avoided prosecuting certain organized-crime figures operating in the strike force’s five-state region, which encompasses Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and New Mexico.

    The strike force, which is within the Justice Department, coordinates federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies in cases against racketeers and mobsters, and prosecutes.

    Van described the crime figures, including high-profile drug dealers and members of the Israeli Mafia, as “friends or associates” of the two prosecutors. He said Crane, who retired in 1977 after 13 years as head of the strike force, currently works for “the Las Vegas mob” and is involved in gambling interests in Nevada.

    JAMES D. HENDERSON

    “THIS IS ALL NEWS TO ME.”

    “Crane’s clients are organized-crime figures,” Van told committee investigator Sterling Johnson, according to a confidential memo. “When Crane’s clients have problems with the Los Angeles strike force, they are rarely touched because the current chief, Jim Henderson, is a friend and former subordinate (of Crane).”

    RICHARD CRANE

    “UNTRUE, UNFOUNDED AND UNFAIR.”

    John T. Cusack, the committee’s chief of staff, confirmed this week that the panel had requested the investigation. He described the allegations as “very serious and very comprehensive” but declined to be specific.

    “We wouldn’t have taken the trouble to write the letter if we didn’t think there was a problem,” Cusack said. “We just don’t write letters like that every day.”

    Crane, who is in private practice in Los Angeles, said he was aware of the Justice Department’s investigation but denounced the allegations as “untrue, unfounded and unfair.”

    “I never met Jerry Van, never had any (expletive) dealings with him and have no idea what he’s (expletive) talking about,” Crane said. “I have never represented any organized-crime figures, and I never asked Henderson to do a (expletive) favor for me or any of my clients.”

    He denied being actively involved in Nevada’s gaming industry but acknowledged he is a part owner of the Barbary Coast Casino in Las Vegas. Nevada Gaming Commission records show Crane owns a 5 percent interest.

    Crane said he attempted to find out about the Justice Department investigation when he learned of it a few weeks ago but was unable to get satisfactory answers from department officials or the House committee.

    “This is no way to run a (expletive) investigation,” Crane said. “I have a good reputation. Let’s get it over with and get the results of it out.”

    Crane said he and Henderson talked about the allegations, the House request for an investigation and the Justice Department probe of them. He said Henderson told him Van is “a kook.”

    Henderson, however, told The Republic he was not aware that specific allegations have been made against him, Crane or the strike force, that he had not talked to Crane about them and that he did not know that the House committee had requested an investigation by the Justice Department.

    “This is all news to me,” he said.

    Henderson denied any wrongdoing and accused Van of having a “personal vendetta” against him. He said Van, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence for assault, is not a credible witness.

    “If the committee is listening to Jerry Van, they ought to consider whether or not he is a credible witness,” Henderson said. “And I can tell you that he is not.”

    Van, located at a federal prison where he is being held in the government’s witnessprotectionprogram, challenged Henderson’s claim that he is not credible.

    “I testified several times for Jim Henderson,” Van said. “I was his star witness more than once. I guess you could say I am credible only when it is convenient for the government.”

    Records show that Van has been used by strike-force prosecutors and others in numerous cases as a witness during trials and before various grand juries. His testimony has been instrumental in winning 10 convictions of organized-crime figures in cases ranging from murder to racketeering, the records show.

    During a September 1982 hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, strike-force prosecutor Paul Corridini testified that Van had been used often as a witness, and that he was “100 percent truthful and had a unique amount of knowledge about the criminal activities” of the Israeli Mafia and other crime groups.

    Cusack said Van’s allegations, along with information his staff was able to gather, indicate that “much more than just narcotics enforcement is involved” in the alleged improprieties.

    Cusack said he learned “unofficially” last month that Justice Department investigators “are talking to people now,” but he said he doesn’t know who has been questioned because no one from the department has discussed the case with the committee.

    Department officials refused to comment.

    A confidential letter to Rangel from Michael E. Shaheen, an attorney in the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, however, said an investigation was begun Nov. 28, 1983, and that the committee would be advised of the results once it was concluded.

    Shaheen failed to respond to several telephone inquiries. Rangel has not returned repeated telephone calls.

    The request for a Justice Department investigation came after the House committee began its own inquiry into the allegations, committee records show. That investigation, according to the records, continued for at least four months.

    A confidential memo dated Jan. 30 said many of Van’s allegations had been “substantiated” during the committee’s secret inquiry. The memo, a copy of which has been obtained by The Republic, outlined an interview with a law-enforcement official in Hawaii, who was described as being knowledgeable about the activities of the Los Angeles-based strike force.

    The official, Donald Cartensen, an investigator with the Honolulu city prosecuting attorney’s office, was quoted by committee investigators as saying he was “concerned and shocked” by the number of “strong cases” that had been dismissed by strike-force attorneys in Los Angeles.

    Cartensen told the committee’s chief counsel, Richard B. Lowe, and investigator John Capers, that cases involving well-known, high-profile drug traffickers working with entertainers and organized-crime figures either had been dismissed or never brought to trial and that he did not know why.

    A September memo from committee investigator Johnson to Cusack, chief of staff for the House committee, also described an interview with Hal Glickman, a Los Angeles bail bondsman who recently completed a prison term for attempting to bribe a federal judge.

    Glickman, according to the memo, claimed that strike-force prosecutors had been paid bribes by Los Angeles-area mobsters, but he refused to cooperate with the committee’s investigation. He said that if he cooperated with the government, “a lot of people would get hurt.”

    Glickman was not available for comment.

    Van was found guilty in June 1979 of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault, attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. He was identified in court records as the “right-hand man” of reputed Israeli Mafia boss Adel “Eddie Nash” Nasiallah.

    Van agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in cases against other organized-crimefigures in return for a reduction in his 16-year sentence. He is scheduled to be paroled in June 1985.

    Shortly after Van appeared before the committee, he was transferred from the government’s witness-protection program into the prison’s general population, a move that some — including Rangel — felt had placed Van’s life in jeopardy.

    The protected-witness unit houses prisoners who have testified against others, often high-ranking organized-crime figures, and are considered at risk of being killed in reprisal for their testimony.

    “Shortly after Mr. Van made these allegations, he was transferred from protective custody into the general prison population,” Rangel wrote in his confidential letter to Smith. “While I do not want to draw conclusions from this act, it raises certain questions, particularly, what conditions have changed that would diminish the need for Mr. Van to be under witness protection.”

    Van was returned to the protected-witness unit shortly after the letter was received by the Justice Department.

    Source:

    http://www.leagle.com/decision/19891427729FSupp698_11294

     
    • criticextraordinaire 6:39 pm on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Most “Israeli mob bosses” these days, and I have had occasion to do straight business with two of their foot dogs, are usually Jewish criminals from former Soviet republics, oftentimes because their home countries have warrants out for their arrest. My guys were from Uzbekistan and Georgia but there are plenty from the other republics, increasingly holing up in Israel.

    • justme 4:13 pm on December 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      If you still want that picture of jerry vann let me know

    • jimmy---chicago 1:29 pm on December 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I am confused about the nash being an israeli mobster I thought he is a PLO they hate the Israeli’s with a passion and I read someware that eddie’s brother was killed by an israeli soldier before eddie came to the states so how could this be i’m sure he had to kiss jew ass to operate a buisness in hollywood or even just to get by but I cant see him joining any type of israeli gang or mob

    • jack 1:25 pm on August 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Are you still looking for a pik of jerry vann?

  • John 8:16 am on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fountainhead inn, , miami beach,   

    An Eyewitness At The Fountainhead Inn? 

    Nearly two weeks after the Wonderland murders, John and Dawn fled east, and eventually they made it all the way to the Fountainhead Inn in North Miami Beach, Florida. During the 1960s, this area was booming economically and up sprang a lot of nice, yet inexpensive motels. Families could afford a nice beach vacation and still stay at a decent place. As these postcards show, it was pretty sweet. However, during the mid to late 1970s the motels became run down, the clientele changed, and the beach in this area suffered a lot of erosion. It was simply not as great as before, and business died off as tourists preferred to stay at newer digs elsewhere in Miami.

    The red arrow is the Fountainhead Inn.

    Fabulous Motel Row! 1960s.

    The Fountainhead Motel

    The Fountainhead Motel. 1960s.

    If you walked out of the front office of the Fountainhead and looked to your left, you would have seen the Aztec Motel next door, just across the parking lot:

    The Aztec Motel

    The Aztec Motel

    Let’s move on to the alleged eyewitness who posted this on a true crime discussion forum. He says that he met John while at the Fountainhead and while the two were in hiding. This is from 2012:

    John Holmes fled to the Fountainhead Hotel in North Miami Beach where he was going to be arrested. He left Miami shortly after they busted him in his hotel. I lived one block away at the time … we met him at a small party at the Fountainhead and he was asked about it at the party. He said no comment and snickered about it. Everyone there knew he had a hand in it for sure, if I or anyone there was asked we would have said he did it under oath. He was kind of a prick, nice, but still that I’m better than you attitude and the I got away with something b.s. made him look like an ass ……. p.s. a lot of the younger ones like myself at the time worried a wee bit about it, after all, in the same room with someone you know murdered people.

    The girl he was with was woof woof, beat up looking like a street urchin……cant believe its been that many years already. He did smoke weed and was doing blow when we left the party. Two other people were left in the room, it had 2 queen beds and the room was on the second floor facing Haulover Beach South.

    For what it’s worth.

     
    • criticextraordinaire 9:38 am on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      That story sounds like BS, somebody who wanted to make a snarky comment about Dawn. I wonder if Big Rosie or Joe from the snack shop are still around. They’d probably give the straight scoop.

      • John W 3:09 pm on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        They were by no means exclusive as a couple. It may have been some other woman. There’s still a lot of gray areas for their time in Florida because Dawn states in Legs O’Neil’s book a bunch of conflicting stuff as opposed to what is in her official Road to Wonderland book, in which she sugar coats her stripping job and omits things.

      • localarts 9:53 pm on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, the story seems somewhat embellished.

      • Beth 3:11 pm on October 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I think it’s funny that everyone seems to claim they lived “right around the corner” from where a lot of this stuff happened! Must have been pretty crowded!

        • criticextraordinaire 6:35 am on October 20, 2013 Permalink

          Well I did have this one buddy in college in the 70’s who claimed to know a porn actress who knew John C. Holmes. At the time he told us that Johnny was married and managed an apartment complex as his “day job”. We thought my buddy was totally full of baloney. Then years later I saw “Wadd” and what do you know, my buddy had it right all along.

    • kdimmick 6:07 pm on October 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      LOL! I had my own POSSIBLE close encounter with John and Dawn in Hollywood in November 1980. At the time I was an 18 year old Marine stationed at Camp Pendelton about 60 miles down the coast from LA and many a weekend was spent by us in the LA/Hollywood area getting into stuff and partying.

      Ok…….. In her book “The Road Through Wonderland” Dawn relates an incident that took place at the then Holiday Inn” hotel where she and Holmes were staying sometime during “Thanksgiving Week” 1980. It’s been awhile since I read the book but as well as I recall she and Holmes had some sort of big argument in their room and Hotel security showed up and kicked them out.
      The Hollywood Holiday Inn Hotel was a large,multi-story building about 1/4 block up Highland street from Hollywood blvd and for myself and my buddies was always the hotel of choice to stay at as it was right in the middle of everything. Anyway……….The night of Thanksgiving Day 1980 myself and 3 friends were in that hotel having a very raucous party that long about 1 am hotel Security came and broke up in our room. We had been yelling at people down on the street from out 7th floor window inviting them to “come on up” LOL! and there was probably about 6 others from the street who were there. There were 4 secuity people and they were pretty cool though. They made all the street people leave and despite the fact there was only supposed to be two of us drunken Jarheads in the room they let the other two stay so long as we quieted down. One of them said he was a former Marine so that probably had a lot to do with it.

      Well, I know it is not much of a *POSSIBLE* close encounter with John and Dawn but I bet nobody else here has got a better one though! LOL!

      BTW: John,you got an OUTSTANDING blog here and you really seem to know how to root out the old information on all the WONDERLAND participants…….

      ALSO……..A big hello to Critic and Jill,some of the old timers from the old IMDB WONDERLAND board

      • John 7:39 am on October 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        That is great. I need to look up that Holiday Inn and get a picture.

      • Jill C. Nelson 8:06 am on October 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t recall that story from before, kdimmick, it’s a good one. Hello to you! ;-)

    • kdimmick 9:43 am on October 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Here is a picture of the building itself. It is no longer a “Holiday Inn” though but is now “The Renaissance” Hotel .

      http://www.you-are-here.com/hollywood/holiday_inn.html

      That circular part at the upper left hand side of the building at the time was a rotating restaurant that had one of the best views of the surrounding area in all of Hollywood. I’m not sure but I think that they have built a section of rotating rooms in that part of the building now.

      LOL…..had some good times there and all over Hollywood itself back in 80-81. Would love to be able to get in a time machine with my buddies from back then and go do it all again just one more time!

  • John 2:25 pm on October 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Holmes Fried (2003 Article) 

    Just another scathing review. 10 years ago this week! Tomorrow, there is a great alternative city magazine article coming…stay tuned! “Gunning For Eddie!” is the title.

    Some critics have a really bad taste for the characters and the real people in Wonderland, and I can understand that. Similarly, I never understood Truman Capote’s love or fascination for that family murderer from In Cold Blood. But, I guess that if I spent six years interviewing Eddie Nash, then we too might become bro’s. Hell, Greg Diles could drive us to SONIC in one of Ed’s convertibles for some brown bag specials.

    Holmes Fried

    Wonderland’s tale of a porn star’s decline might have had resonance if any of it felt real

    by Jean Oppenheimer | Phoenix New Times | Thursday, October 16, 2003

    If you lie down with dogs, you’ve got to expect to get up with fleas. And when you go to a movie about a coked-out former porn star who was implicated in the grisly murders of four lowlife drug-dealers — a case which remains “officially” unsolved to this day — well, you’d better figure on a full medicated bath afterwards because a flea collar just ain’t going to do it.

    In fact, a shower is exactly what you’ll want to take after watching this fact-based crime drama about the brutal 1981 slaying of four people who were bludgeoned to death inside a home on Wonderland Avenue in a well-to-do section of Los Angeles. (Given the LaLa Land setting, the title is obviously a play on words — and worlds). Adult film star John Holmes (Val Kilmer), the king of 1970’s porn flicks, was suspected in the murders and, while he was eventually charged (which occurs after the film ends and is alluded to merely in a postscript), he was also acquitted.

    Director Paul Thomas Anderson‘s 1997 film Boogie Nights might seem the obvious comparison (the fictional character of Dirk Diggler in that picture was loosely based on Holmes), but Wonderland is not interested in the big man’s porn activities. Rather, it focuses on the murders and the events leading up to them.

    The film opens after Holmes’ “acting” career has ended. A coke addict and petty criminal, he has burned most of his friends but is never above hatching one more plot. Hoping to share in the spoils, he tells scumbag Ron Launius (Josh Lucas, once again an unnervingly convincing hedonist and sociopath) about a stash of drugs and money that reptilian drug dealer Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian), another Holmes associate, has hidden in his house. With his partners in crime, Billy Deverell (Tim Blake Nelson) and biker David Lind (an unrecognizable Dylan McDermott in a nice change of pace for him), Launius stages a home invasion.

    The cocky Launius makes the mistake of humiliating but not killing Nash, and it doesn’t take Eddie long to get Holmes to rat out his friends. Whether Holmes joined in the revenge killings of Launius, Deverell and two women (Lind wasn’t home at the time) could never be proven.

    Director and co-writer James Cox goes for a highly stylized look: hyper-active hand-held camera, quick cuts, split screens, blown-out whites and a preponderance of in-your-face close-ups shot from every conceivable angle. There is a dishwater brown tint to the film, which has been shot and/or processed to give it a grainy, textured look. It’s so treated it looks fake. Certain scenes play out as if shot under a strobe black light — dark, indistinct, and slightly hallucinatory. The violence is visceral and graphic.

    Cox’s approach to the material is understandable; he wants to convey the moral ugliness of this world and the hopped-up frenzy of its permanently high inhabitants. But while this may be exactly the way to tell the story, at times it feels as if Cox is just showing off what he can do: lots of style but not much else. One thing is certain: he has carried off his particular vision with aplomb.

    The problem is that the characters are such creepy, despicable vermin that you can’t connect with any of them (not even Lisa Kudrow, who does a nice turn as Holmes’ estranged wife, or a dark-haired Kate Bosworth as his girlfriend). As good as all the actors are — Kilmer excels at just this sort of scuzzy creature — they are basically given just one dimension to play. Some people really are that irredeemable, of course, but presenting a film in which the viewer ends up recoiling from (or being completely indifferent to) everybody makes for a flat film. Not that psychological insight would redeem any of these sleaze balls, but it might help the viewer get drawn into their story, much as audiences were able to see the characters in Boogie Nights as flawed, morally questionable, even pathetic — but nonetheless real — people.

     
    • criticextraordinaire 5:57 pm on October 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      The writer of that article seems just a tad judgmental. :-(

      • scabiesoftherat 1:29 am on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I suppose it’s his job to do that. All I know is that I watched that movie, straight, without so much as a pause for a bathroom break,….then, when it ended and went to the DVD main menu, I hit play and did the same exact thing again. I believe that, over Boogie Nights, THIS is truer to the story than anything. I mean, you could just feel 1981 in this flick and you could just feel the characters. They were one dimensional because they WERE one dimensional. How can he criticize Cox for that?

        • John 8:24 am on October 18, 2013 Permalink

          Yes, nothing wrong with being one dimensional. In movies like Blow and a few other classics, there’s time for a love story and raising kids. That would have been anti-Wonderland and boring as shit.

      • James DelCol 11:51 am on October 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        He’s a bit backed up. He needs to get laid. Has he ever gotten laid? He knows nothing of art that is for sure. If serving our country for ten years during a war is not redeemable, I don’t know what is. Every life is redeemable according to every religious theory on the planet. Even Ron could have been redeemed if given a proper place to go to clean out.

        Wonderland and LA during this period is a culture study. During this time was the birth of modern day heavy metal. So you could go hear Motley Crue, an 80’s new wave band or The Runaways and Joan Jett. Then you could go up to the Canyon Store and get some Seconal and hang out at the Wonderland house. Can’t do that anymore. It is a much more underground scene and far more inglorious now. People used to party for a purpose. Their music was more politically charged than the rest of LA during this time. Motley Crue was not going to sing an anti-war song.
        According to this guy’s article, everyone who parties up is a “sleaze ball”. Is that really how it is? Sometimes people who venture out of their traditional landscape become more creative. So, stop going to church and go get some “Goddamn mutha….. SMACK!!!!” I’m joking, that is the wrong drug.

        Most drugs are considered no good. Marijuana is gaining some strength out there. People are ok with herb. Drinking and just about any other drug will screw up your life. I think MDMA will gain in acceptance over the years. They are treating Iraqi and Afghani Vets with PTSD with MDMA. It will be available to the public in the next 10 years. Ron Launius and other people who became addicted had to show us all and we had to learn the lessons of how not to party. Dealers never seem to learn because they are rewarded until they are put in jail.

        End WOT and War on Drugs. Legalize. Neither war are going to work. They will not prevent one terrorist attack or save one life from drug overdose until the US changes course politically and legally. We’re in an awful mess right now. We are creating enemies to hold onto our huge military and police forces. We seem to have a need to keep cops and soldiers busy.

        We are currently making terrorists and enemies all over the world with our drone strikes and secret spy tactics. We need to change course politically and legally. Restore the 4th amendment and let the ACLU argue its cases in the Supreme Court. Abolish FISA court. Treatment instead of jail time for addicts.

        I would have given Ron Launius a chance to get it right. Introduce him to some sober people and connect him with sober people. Maybe he would turn around. Addicts can get this done, if they try. Either way, locking them up does nothing. In fact, an addict if so inclined can get drugs in jail as they do on the street. They worsen in jail. I would call for extended rehab instead of jail time. We have to use reason and our intellect to understand that it isn’t eye for an eye that works best.

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