One of many things absent from the recent movie adaptation of Watchmen was the fictional comic Tales of the Black Freighter. This story within a story mirrored events (as they happened) in Watchmen so a standalone direct-to-DVD movie kinda defeats the purpose.
The episode-length movie, which clocks in at just over 20 minutes, tells the tale of a sea captain who is marooned after an encounter with the Black Freighter, a ghost ship that collects the souls of those it kills. Desperate to return home before the Black Freight attacks it too, he commits increasingly gruesome acts to make his journey. And it doesn’t get much more gruesome than building a makeshift raft outta your dead crewmates.
Except for a very talkative corpse, Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter faithfully follows the source material… well as faithfully as it can without the parallel moments in Watchmen. I suggest re-reading or reading the comic before seeing this. Here’s a torrent with the relevant pages: Black Freight Comic.
This can be enjoyed without having ever heard of Watchmen, but it’s really only intended for fans (the comic not the movie). And even they would be better off saving their money for the extended edition of Watchmen, which will include Tales of the Black Freighter. It’s been reported that it might even be cut into the movie as originally intended, but that could be pretty jarring depending on the transitions. The only way I can see that working is if they use the Tales from the Crypt television show as a model and show an actual comic that morphs into animation.
The DVD also includes the mockumentary Under the Hood in which the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason, is interviewed on a 60-minute-esque show called The Culpeper Minute. There’s even fake commercials!
There’s lots of revelations like Mason’s motivation for becoming Nite Owl and plenty of awkward moments like when the host asks Sally Jupiter about being assaulted by the Comedian.
And while Watchmen fanatics will love yet another layer of realism, casual fans may fall asleep.