It’s been a little over a week since Watchmen opened, and what have we learned? I mean, aside from the big blue secrets of Dr. Manhattan’s nether-region? Well, for starters, we now know that the world can be divided into two camps: those who thought the 161-minute flick was like sitting through an endless and excruciating waking nightmare, and those who walked out giddy as a jaybird itching for more.

For those in the second camp, Warner Bros. has a treat: a companion DVD to the film coming out on March 24, titled Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter. And if you’re muttering, “Tales from the huh?”, then this ain’t the disc for you.

As any fanboy (or girl…yes, they exist) will tell you, Tales from the Black Freighter is the story-within-the-story in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel. And its richness and gruesome gore is a big part of the reason why the comic has such a cult following. It’s proof that these stories are more than kids’ stuff. It’s also basically the story of a shipwrecked sailor who’s haunted and hunted by a pirate galleon full of zombie-like buccaneers who hunger for — and eventually reap — his soul. It’s deliciously nasty stuff. And the animated mini-movie unspools in a funky visual style, tapping the voice of 300‘s Gerard Butler to goose things along. It runs 26 minutes and it’s pretty awesome.

But wait, there’s more.

Also on the DVD is a second companion film called Under the Hood. Running a little longer at 38 minutes, this mini-flick is staged like an old episode of a 60 Minutes-style show called The Culpeper Minute, which takes a nostalgic look back to the early days of the Minutemen — the masked heroes/vigilantes who preceded the Watchmen. It’s fun, tongue-in-cheek stuff done in the style of Woody Allen’s Zelig or one of those scratchy old Dharma Initiative training films from Lost. Carla Gugino lends a hand as The Silk Spectre, still looking good in retirement, reminiscing about the good old days before the Keene Act.

Check out our exclusive video previews for both here:

Is all of this backstory and metastory necessary to feast on the Watchmen entree at the multiplex? Not at all. But for the serious fan, it’s a pretty tasty dessert. Anyone drooling at the thought of digging into these two? And who out there wants to step up and defend the nearly-three-hour epic film?

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