The Truth Behind The Films: Sawney Bean


The Truth Behind The Films continues. This week we have the truth behind Wes Craven’s 1977 classic The Hills Have Eyes.

The Hills Have Eyes was inspired by Sawney Bean who was born sometime in the 1500s in East Lothian, Scotland. His father was a hedge trimmer and ditch digger but he had no taste for honest work.

Soon he ran off with a vicious woman who shared his beliefs. The couple found a coastal cave in Bennane Head between Girvan and Ballantrae. They lived in the cave undiscovered for the next 25 years. The cave was 200 yards deep and the entrance was hidden at high tide.

Sawney Bean and the woman had 8 sons, 6 daughters, 18 grandsons, and 14 granddaughters. Many of the grandchildren were products of incest, obviously. Many historians believe that Sawney Bean and his family were a myth. Whether he existed or not has little bearing on the astronomical number of his supposed crimes.

The real life legend is even more horrifying than Craven’s vision.

The clan survived for so long by ambushing victims on the roadside. Much like Papa Jupiter’s clan in Wes Craven’s 1977 classic The Hills Have Eyes. Legend has it the clan was responsible for 1,000 murders and acts of cannibalization. When finally captured, the men were drawn and quartered while the women and children were buried alive. One daughter was said to have left the family but she too was caught and hung.

Next: The Truth Behind the Films: The Gainesville Ripper

Whether Sawney Bean really existed or not at this point is pretty much irrelevant. The fact remains that this could plausibly happen. Whether it’s fact or fiction it’s chilling right down to the bone marrow. So residents of Elm Street if you ever decide to go exploring in a cave, be careful. You never really know what may lurk in the darkened corners of the abyss.