Penny the Cosmic Cat (Penny Hedges) and Will Ziffel (Bill Hedges) are in search of a planet where they can drill for fuel for their spaceship the Andromeda. Monitoring his spectrometer Will finds a planet with the type of rock that could potentially have what they are looking for. The planet was subjected to the effects of a supernova in the past. It is now slowly re-growing new vegetation. Will finds a spot rich in the fuel he needs. He decides to start drilling in the morning.
Penny finds an amulet half buried in the alien soil. Beyond are the remnants of an ancient civilization. Alien machines are scattered on the landscape. Will surmises that the inhabitants either perished or were able to leave to find another place to live before their sun went supernova. Penny tries to turn on one of the machines but Will says that they are too old to still function. They return to the ship for the evening. After they walk away the machines begin to turn on.
While resting before retiring for the night Will and Penny sit outside the spaceship reading. Penny is reading one of the many comic books in her collection. This one is on ghost stories. After they retire the alien machines activate and read the ghost story comic book Penny left outside. The machine begins to generate ghosts from the pages of the book. The ghosts begin to swirl around Penny as Will sleeps. Penny is up all night haunted by the ghosts.
The next day Will sets up the drill while Penny dozes. Waiting for the drill to do its job Will begins reading a Space Western to pass the time. The alien machines read the story along with Will. He falls asleep reading. He is awakened by an alien voice. It is now nighttime. Out of the darkness comes an alien robot just like the one in Will’s book. The robot calls itself Johnny Reo (Nick Mulpagano). It challenges Will to a gunfight. Will is unarmed. The robot has a laser. Unless Will or Penny can come up with a way to defeat Johnny Reo, Will is going to be vaporized.
“Scaredy Cat” was released in 2018. It was written, directed and stars Bill Hedges. It is a science fiction short film and is episode one from the Cosmic Cat series. The Cosmic Cat series is produced by The Cosmic Films Studio in Nebraska. The film is about 26 minutes long and was made with a budget of about $2,000. The movie isn’t obscure so much as it is unknown, but hopefully that will change. Once Bill gets a few more episodes completed more people may find it. It is a film that deserves a cult.
There are a whole lot of adjectives to describe this film: adorable, creative, charming, inspired, clever and just a whole bunch fun to watch.
Bill Hedges is a big fan of the “Lost in Space” television series. He hails from Lyons, Nebraska. When he retired from the Post Office he cultivated that love for the show and created his own universe. He purchased an old theater building that he used to work at when he was a teenager and made it into a studio. In his studio he has recreated the look and feel of those television shows that hearken back to the sixties, especially “Lost in Space”. To maintain that environment Bill prefers to do practical effects rather than use CGI. The result is a step back in time to a world where imagination meets innovation.
This episode reminded me a little of the Star Trek episode “Shore Leave” where the planet reads peoples thoughts and creates an environment to match them. The difference here is that the machines create the environment based on what it reads.
Penny is a rescue cat from the Nebraska Humane Society. She has a radio controlled stunt double for dangerous stunts and action shots beyond her abilities. She is an indoor cat so going to the studio and acting in films keeps her busy and mentally fit.