Tracing the Real-Life Inspirations Behind Classic Horror Movies

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Wes Craven sure loves dark folklore. His feature film debut, The Last House on the Left (1972), was inspired by the 13th century Swedish ballad "Töres döttrar i Wänge," which first inspired Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1960). For Craven's follow-up, The Hills Have Eyes, the filmmaker redirected his interests to Scotland—specifically, the Sawney Bean saga.

In The Hills Have Eyes, an unlucky family happens across a group of disfigured flesh-eaters who live primitively in the Nevada desert. Way back in the 15th or 16th century, as legend has it, Alexander "Sawney" Bean led a group of 48 followers in killing and subsequently eating more than 1,000 human victims. It makes one hell of a story, with the Bean crew's youngest members said to have been conceived through incest and their targets' leftover limbs found washed up on beaches.

However, a lack of hard evidence has kept the Sawney Bean tale relegated to fiction. Some Scots still believe in Sawney Bean's validity, though, just as they cling to the supposed truth behind the equally speculated Scottish cannibal Christie-Cleek.

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