The terrifying 1977 horror movie, The Hills Have Eyes, written and directed by Wes Craven, is both frightening and disturbing. The flick boasts an original tale of an incest-bred and cannibalistic clan as they hunt strangers for “food” in the Nevada desert. The plot is clear, albeit creepy, but the inspiration for the script is based on stories tales that, like any lore, contain varying amounts of embellishment inside the truth.
Sawney Bean was born Alexander Bean in East Lothian, Scotland sometime during the late 1500’s. Unwilling to follow in his father’s vocational footsteps of ditch-digging, he and a female companion fled to the waters of Bennane Head in the county of Galloway. They found seclusion inside a deep cave that sank over 600 feet into the ground.
Twisted and violent, the couple’s presence remained secret during the light of day compliments of a high tide. The water filled the first several hundred feet of the entrance to the cave so that none would suppose anyone or anything would reside deep inside. Nightly, the lunar cycle mandated a low tide and with it the subsequent withdrawal of the ocean thus allowing an exit from their den. When the sun left the sky and emancipated the cloaking darkness, the couple were free to exit their crude home and set out into the night on a nocturnal search for prey.
The sinister pair targeted unsuspecting, traveling strangers who initially fell victim to their act of robbery. Only later would they find that they had been struck unconscious and dragged back to the couple’s dark, cold cave and slaughtered to nourish the cannibalistic man and woman. Soon, severed arms and legs of their victims began to wash up on the shoreline. The neighboring population quickly became frightened and paranoid. At first, the reports of missing people fell on deaf ears. Although amputated limbs continued to wash ashore they were attributed to the unforgiving waves and undertow of the harsh ocean and its dangerous predators. In some cases, the gruesome findings were summarily dismissed as a result of vague, natural elements. In any case, the body parts found on the sands were ruled as a non-concern by King James VI.
With a concealed den to commit their horrors and nature absorbing the blame for their discarded waste and homicidal evidence, the couple lived undetected for a reported twenty-five years. During this time they were quite prolific in their acts of procreation, producing eight sons and six daughters.
As the clan grew in size so did the amount of murdered men and woman. As the numbers climbed, the local people began to blame each other and launched their own witch hunt. Their reasoning instigated lynching of the local innkeepers, deducing that they were the last to see the missing travelers alive and therefor, must be to blame. For years, countless innocent people were lynched and killed while the Bean clan hid safely in their cave or horror.
For over two decades, the sick group hunted as a pack. Smaller children would feign the need for assistance along the road while the older, stronger family members waited in the darkness to attack as a group and easily overwhelm their targets.
Near the end of the clan’s twenty-five year reign of terror, the collective family of incest numbered at 48, having added 18 grandsons and 14 granddaughters.
The murderous family’s demise is said to have occurred during their last attempted robbery and abduction of a man and a women traveling by horse. The man was skilled in defensive combat and wielded a gun to stave off his attackers. Sadly, he could not save his wife as her throat was slit while still standing. Several of the young cannibals lapped up her warm blood from the ground. Another cut open her stomach, allowing her entrails to spill out. Several of the Bean clan swarmed around her and those that obtained close proximity to the dead woman’s body hurriedly and hungrily shoved her guts into their mouths.
Luckily for the man, a large number of fairgoers appeared and the clan ran back to their cave. After reporting the horrific incident, a manhunt was launched armed with over 400 men and several bloodhounds.
The trail to the cave still fresh with their scent, the Beans were discovered living amongst body parts and decayed remains inside a cold, dark den of death.
The legend states that the Bean clan was captured, chained and immediately executed without a trial. In a biblical air of justice, “an eye for an eye” determined the fate of the men. Their hands, feet and genitals were hacked off and they were left to bleed out to their death. Alternately, the women and children were forced to watch the men slowly die and then were burned alive.
Based on reports of missing persons in the area and the skeletal remains recovered throughout the long cave, it’s estimated that over 1,000 men and women lost their lives to the Bean clan’s cannibalistic attacks.