Movies set on a single ship
March 13, 2012 12:24 AM   Subscribe

Movies set predominantly on a single spaceship?

Please come up with any movie you can think of that is set predominantly on a single spaceship. I'm most thinking of thrillers, in which there are a handful of characters who are picked off one-by-one by some outside intruder, in which the contained setting of the ship functions like a haunted house that the protagonists cannot leave (or, alternatively, the very limited resources such as oxygen or water or time-before-destruction are the characters' main antagonist), but please come up with any such movie you can think of.

(It need not be horror, it need not be a thriller, and, really, it need not even be a spaceship -- bonus points for similar movies set on an airplane or a boat or what-have-you. Hell -- it need not even be a movie! If you know of a book or play, let me know!)

Movies like Sunshine, Solaris, Event Horizon, or Apollo 13 are what I'm looking for. Movies in which a hefty or important section are set just on a single space ship, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Alien, are also appreciated.
posted by lewedswiver to Media & Arts (51 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
posted by vorfeed at 12:33 AM on March 13, 2012 [10 favorites]

You've already named most of the ones I came to post. Seconding Moon though. It is a lunar base rather than a spaceship, but it does have that thriller, haunted house feel.
posted by maybeandroid at 12:47 AM on March 13, 2012

Dark Star. Whilst not strictly a 'haunted house' style thriller, there are moments of great tension surrounding a sentient bomb.
posted by essexjan at 12:54 AM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

Wasn't there a Friday the 13th/Jason in Space movie?
posted by Ghidorah at 12:57 AM on March 13, 2012

Jason X
posted by cazoo at 12:57 AM on March 13, 2012

Solaris and Solyaris
posted by a_green_man at 12:59 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hitchcock's Lifeboat.
posted by beanie at 12:59 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Pandorum, Jason X, Cube, and a whole lot of Doctor Who serials (The Ark in Space, 42, The Satan Pit).

A somewhat related previous question.
posted by painquale at 1:00 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

You have the really great ones already....most of the ones below are just ok, but all perfect examples of the "sci-fi contained survivalist thriller/horror genre."

Outer Space:

Mission to Mars
Red Planet
Silent Running

Deep Sea:



posted by Cortes at 1:02 AM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was going to say Alien. There's House on Haunted Hill, which is modern and set in, you guessed it, a giant house. If I remember it's based on The Haunting of Hill House (Actually, I'm wrong, but apparently HoHH and 'The Haunting' came out the same year so I'm confused. Eh, it still works).

Third-person-shooter Dead Space is set on a mining starship, where the character you portray is the sole survivor.
posted by Heretical at 1:02 AM on March 13, 2012

I have not seen Supernova, but it fits your criteria.
posted by painquale at 1:06 AM on March 13, 2012

I'm drawing a blank on spaceships other than the ones you've already listed, but:

On a train:
Murder on the Orient Express

Inside a small mining colony on a moon of jupiter:

Underwater base:
The Abyss

arctic base:
The Thing

On a claustrophobic alien world:
Pitch Black

Aha! A space ship!:

A city:
Dark City

Research facility:
Eden Log
posted by smidgen at 1:09 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Emannuelle in Space:
posted by dfriedman at 1:14 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have I got the movie for you!

Triangle is set on a ship, features characters getting picked off one by one, and has a twist that is either stupidly brilliant or brilliantly stupid, depending on one's appreciation for B-movie horror.

(Do not read the Wikipedia plot summary before watching the movie!)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:47 AM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Red Dwarf
Babylon 5
Defying Gravity (mostly set on a spaceship, but there are important plot elements happening at Mission Control)
Deep Blue Sea (underwater research facility)
posted by spunweb at 1:53 AM on March 13, 2012

Oh, and for books, there's the Elizabeth Bear series, Dust, which is about a generation ship where the atmosphere is failing. It's one of the best generation ship books I've read.
posted by spunweb at 1:56 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Poseiden Adventure (ship)
Towering Inferno (high rise)
Airplane! (do comedies count?)
Flightplan (Jodie Foster/airplane)
Red Eye (Cillian Murphy/airplane)
The Love Boat?
posted by Cocodrillo at 2:18 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Disney's The Black Hole.
posted by arcticseal at 2:26 AM on March 13, 2012

Not a movie, but up until the last season, the BEST SCI-FI EVER, all set on a single space station...

Babylon 5.

It's the TV equivalent of the Dune Trilogy.

Ah, there was some off-station stuff. I guess on two counts it doesn't meet your criteria.

Just watch Babylon 5. You'll love it.
posted by jbenben at 2:29 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nightflyers fits your bill pretty well. Boy did it suck.

There's a lot of overlap between haunted houses and haunted ships, though haunted ships have more affinity to spaceships of course. The Black Hole has haunted ship that doubles as a haunted house replete with a creepy old man and spooky servants.

But yeah, sea stories. Dead Calm/Knife in the Water might fit your definitions turning down the scifi dial. Dracula (Stoker's novel) had a little passage where it is related how something was killing the people on the ship one by one, how very terrifying indeed that must have been! Even Frankenstein is framed as a spooky sea tale.
posted by fleacircus at 2:29 AM on March 13, 2012

The Black Hole
posted by Telpethoron at 3:42 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ghost Ship. It's so bad, it's good.
posted by Nackt at 4:19 AM on March 13, 2012

Dead Calm. Predominantly on one boat.
posted by hat_eater at 4:26 AM on March 13, 2012

Another sort-of related question: this one is focused on books that take place on a single ship/space station.
posted by flipper at 4:54 AM on March 13, 2012

I wouldn't have thought of this before reading the comments here, but The Shining might meet your criteria.
posted by Betelgeuse at 5:31 AM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Below (WWII submarine)
Deep Rising (luxury cruise ship)
The Tartarus Incident by William Greenleaf (protagonists trapped on a planet due to a technical glitch - eventually they start exploring some nearby catacombs . . . . )
posted by soundguy99 at 5:47 AM on March 13, 2012

Hmm, in the movie of Doom, it's technically a "base," but they're trapped in it, with all these criteria. Warning: not particularly good.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:09 AM on March 13, 2012

transsiberian plays with this idea, though technically there are two different trains involved, as well as some stations and other stopping points.
posted by dizziest at 6:36 AM on March 13, 2012

Not a thriller: Das Boot
posted by mazola at 6:50 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Defying Gravity" was based on an excellent if overly short BBC series called "A Space Odyssey," which featured a nearly identical ship, Pegasys, which was touring 5-6 planets of the solar system (5 or 6 because the crew had an early return opportunity and had to choose whether to visit Pluto); the show was intended to be realistic but not overly dramatic; it also would occasionally invent some apparent hazard which turned out as it did. It also completely lacked the "Gray's Anatomy" drama as well as the silly SF element that "Defying Gravity" had.

Also, Kim Stanley Robinson's amazing book trilogy, Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars featured, in the first book, a group of 100 researchers sent to Mars and were stuck living together for the duration of that book; later books show a transforming Mars with a less hostile environment and the 100 still living go their separate ways, but the first book is a relatively contained.

Finally I note that someone out there can probably identify all of ST:TNG's "Bottle Episodes." When the series was made, they averaged $1 Million/episode, but they spent unevenly, such that every 7(?) episodes they needed to make a "Ship in the Bottle" episode, meaning no new sets, no guest stars, and recycled SFX.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:51 AM on March 13, 2012

Also, without spoiling, I should emphasize that the City in "Dark City," mentioned above, does indeed fit the requirements, even though it's a large specimen.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:57 AM on March 13, 2012

Thirding Moon. Seriously: Moon. Watch it right now. It is not only one of the best sci-fi movies I've seen in the last 5 years, it's one of the best movies period I've seen in the last 5 years.
posted by AmandaA at 6:58 AM on March 13, 2012

All the good movies that fit in this genre have been mentioned so I will mention a bad one and a so bad it's good one. The bad one is Hellraiser 4: Bloodline, which is pretty terrible even as far as Hellraiser sequels go. It's been called "Hellraiser in Space" but almost all of the film is a long and boring flashback to pre-space times, with the space parts at the beginning and end feeling tacked on. The so bad it's good one is Dracula 3000, which stars Coolio as a space pothead who turns into a sex-crazed space vampire and terrorizes the rest of the crew. Well it actually stars Casper Van Dien as spaceship captain van Helsing who fights against the evil space vampire Count Orlock (despite the title, no Draculas are actually involved) but Coolio's insane character is probably the main reason to watch it, other than the "We ran out of money so let's just stop the movie now" ending.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:15 AM on March 13, 2012

Not a movie, but the "Out of Gas" episode of Firefly is a good example of this.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 7:24 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

There was a TV Movie remake of this, called Lifepod, set in space.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:58 AM on March 13, 2012

Apollo 18. Unfortunately not nearly as good as Apollo 13. (Spoilers in the "Plot" section of that Wikipedia page.)
posted by slenderloris at 8:00 AM on March 13, 2012

If you want silly/bizarre, the Space Madness episode of Ren and Stimpy fits your criteria.

Also silly: Snakes on a Plane.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:23 AM on March 13, 2012

Space Mutiny.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:56 AM on March 13, 2012

Definitely not a movie, but the horror/survival video game Dead Space takes place entirely on board an interstellar mining ship.

Many episodes of Farscape also make use of this trope, most notably "Crackers Don't Matter" and "Eat Me".
posted by fight or flight at 9:02 AM on March 13, 2012

Werner Herzog's Wild Blue Yonder. I especially like that the footage on the spaceship is of real astronauts in space.
posted by to recite so charmingly at 9:03 AM on March 13, 2012

Mission to Mars - probably the worst film I've ever seen in my life.
posted by mattbucher at 9:34 AM on March 13, 2012

Definitely not a movie, but the horror/survival video game Dead Space takes place entirely on board an interstellar mining ship.

There are actually two animated films based on the Dead Space video game series, Dead Space: Downfall which is a prequel to the original Dead Space game, and Dead Space: Aftermath which is a prequel to Dead Space 2. They are meant for people who have played the games though, so the plot doesn't really make as much sense unless you know what happens in the games.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:36 AM on March 13, 2012

It! The Terror from Beyond Space

This (pretty bad) fifties movie was an uncredited inspiration for Alien and has basically the same plot.
posted by octothorpe at 9:41 AM on March 13, 2012

For funny, there's Galaxy Quest (though they do a tiny bit of planetary exploration, plus scenes on Earth)
posted by Mchelly at 10:06 AM on March 13, 2012

The Dark Side of the Moon, which is or was on Netflix Instant. Supernatural horror with serial killings on a spaceship.

Inseminoid a.k.a. Horror Planet, a claustrophobic moonbase scenario.
posted by galaksit at 12:56 PM on March 13, 2012

Air Force One
posted by puritycontrol at 2:59 PM on March 13, 2012

Zathura. The spaceship is a house. In space.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 4:56 PM on March 13, 2012

Watched Triangle tonight on this thread's recommendation. Fantastic! Yes, DO NOT read the Wikipedia summary, at all. Nice and claustrophobic.
posted by BigJen at 7:53 PM on May 21, 2012

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