Sawney Beane had a lot of children. In the movies, that is, metaphorically speaking. The brood from Wes Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES, for instance. They were his. One could draw parallels to the murderous brood in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE as well, though the honor of inspiring this last largely goes to Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. It may have been a real-life Scottish equivalent of Gein, however, who inspired the legend of Sawney Beane, so it all comes full circle.
Sawney Beane, supposed to have lived during the 1500s, wasn’t alone in the annals of Scottish cannibalism, though. There was Andrew Christiecleek, who murdered and consumed his unwary neighbors during a famine in the 1300s, and a man named Tristicloke was also reputed to have killed and cannibalized dozens if not hundreds of victims. It is quite possible, and some would say even probable, that all three legends were inspired by the same person and the same case, with the names, locations of the crimes, and even the years when they occurred having become confabulated over time. We will never know the true story of this Scottish monster, or even if he truly existed at all. Having men like Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer in modern times to serve as examples, though, I’d be willing to bet there really was a “Sawney Beane.”