The Caves Have Eyes

The content below is from Episode 129 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • So two episodes back #127 “The Worst Road Trip I Have Ever Taken” I talked about how The weekend prior was the bachelor party of one of my best friends. It was supposed to be in Charleston SC. But the Best Man took all of our money for the mansion on the beach, booked a crappy shack 30+ minutes out of town, and snorted the $3,700 leftover… right up his now scabbed and scarred nose. 
    • Best Man deceived 10 of us (his friends since childhood) in multiple ways for months and never showed signs of taking responsibility for his actions.
    • Although I was hesitant about publishing the episode, I obviously went through with it, but I took precautions. For instance, I didn’t mention some of the other morally questionable things Best Man did on the trip, I only referred to him as Best Man, and I did give resources at the end for NA and Gambling addiction help.
    • While I did NOT post about this episode on social media or promote it in any way, I did hear from about a dozen people how they thought it was a good episode and how they sympathized with me and the groom. Four of those people were people who were also on the trip. Four people, that were actually involved and who also had their money stolen from them, approved of episode #127.
    • Well on Thursday 9/8/2022, just over a week from posting episode #127, I received the first hate mail that this podcast has ever gotten.
    • A mutual friend from High School who knows all of us, but was NOT on the bachelor party trip (nor was he invited), decided to give his opinion.
    • Mr. Hate Mail (as he will be referred to) went on to belittle me and poke fun at this podcast, using all sorts of profanity. Saying how I was to blame for “not letting this *stuff go.”
    • I would just like to say I do not regret my actions. I view this entire interaction as a milestone for the podcast. MY FIRST HATE MAIL! YAY!
    • And I disagree with that statement, I have let it go. I recorded the podcast and was done with it. Just like I’m done with Best Man. I still want my money back from Best Man, but I realize that will likely never happen.
    • Plus, episode #127 got a slight uptick in listens/downloads so thank you to all who enjoyed it and also those who hated it… counts as a listen/download either way!
  • I have an unhealthy need to make sure everyone likes me sometimes, and this interaction has helped me break that need. Thank you Mr. Hate Mail. Your need to trash talk me on a subject you know nothing about and lack of proper grammar in doing so has helped me.
  • I wasn’t going to post episode #127 on social media, but your reaching out inspired me to do so.
    • As promised, Mr. Hate Mail’s name has also been purposefully omitted.
  • Last note on the topic: the wedding is coming up and so far, Best Man is still technically the Best Man lol. So we shall see how that goes.
    • Now that I got that petty High School drama out of the way…


The segment where I recommend you try something. It could be a book, movie, TV show, or something totally different. Sometimes this segment ties into the main event of the episode, but it usually has nothing to do with it.

  • This week I recommend you mix coffee and coca-cola.
    • Hear me out. They make a Coca-cola with Coffee drink in a can and it is delicious. There is a Dark Blend, mocha, vanilla, caramel, and they have ZERO calorie versions too. Those taste amazing and got me hooked…
    • But then… I stopped seeing them at my local convenience store. I asked the woman that worked there and she said they don’t carry it anymore, “not enough business on it.”
    • I was worried I would never get to taste that rich taste again, until…
    • Just the other day I was pouring myself some homemade decaf cold brew
      • (yes, Shannon and I have a cold brew maker thing… much simpler than you might think)
    • and as I was pouring the cold brew into my mug I saw we had some diet coke in the fridge. There wasn’t enough cold brew to fill my mug so I thought I would combine. And wouldn’t you know it, homemade Coca-Cola with Coffee tastes just as good as the canned stuff LOL.
    • Once I get the ratio of coffee to coke down I will be all set.
    • It may sound kind of gnarly to you to try these two classic beverages together, but I say you give it a try. Pour some cold coffee and cold coke into a mug and give it a swig. If you don’t like it, no harm done.
    • THAT is what this Recommendation segment is all about!


  • This week’s episode is about Sawney Bean and his clan of murderous incest cannibal family members.
    • Yeah, you heard that right. This one’s a doosy! There has even been movies inspired by Sawney Bean’s evil legend, though that’s all the movie got out of the tale… inspiration.
Hills Have Eyes 1977
  • The plot of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes (1977) is very different from the legend of Sawney Bean.
    • The film follows the Carters, a suburban family targeted by a family of cannibal savages after becoming stranded in the Nevada desert.
Hills Have Eyes 2006
  • I will admit, I haven’t seen the original Hills Have Eyes movie, I did however watch the 2006 remake and I LOVED it.
    • I was still at a young age when horror movies actually scared the living hell out of me because I couldn’t separate the movie from reality. So It was kind of traumatizing, but once the survivor starts to take revenge on the monsters, that’s when I really started to like the movie. I recommend the 2006 Hills Have Eyes… it is brutally cool.
    • The main difference between the original 1977 version and the 2006 remake is that the remake added that the cannibalistic bad guys were mutated by atomic bomb testing which added to the horror in my book.
  • But yeah, the popular horror movie Franchise Hills Have Eyes that entertained horror flick fans for decades was inspired by true events… that’s the kind of fact that scares adults LOL.
Wes Craven
  • Wes Craven was interviewed by in 2006 about this inspiration:
    • “Originally, it came from an article I saw in the New York library about the Sawney Bean Family. In the 1700s in Scotland I believe, there was an area that had road running through it from Scotland, and people thought it was haunted because people kept disappearing from that road. The story came out when a couple was attacked by these wild-looking people, and one got away. He knew someone in the court, and they sent out an expedition which resulted in finding a cave along the English Channel.”
  • So when my step dad Roy told me to look into the true story behind the Hills Have Eyes, I knew it would be a podcast episode! Thanks Roy.
The Cave
  • The legend of Sawney Bean (a name so terrifying, yet also goofey) begins in East Lothian Scotland.
    • Alexander “Sawney” Bean was born during the 16th century (1500s) in East Lothian Scotland. His father worked manual labor as a ditch-digger and a hedge-trimmer. Sawney tried to work alongside his father but didn’t take to manual labor. He decided to leave home with a woman he had met by the name of Black Agnes Douglas, a supposed wicked woman expected of being a witch.
    • It must have been true love because the two got married and moved away to Ballantrae in Ayrshire Scotland. There they found a home in Bennane Cave… yes, a cave. A big cave with over a mile of tunnels reaching the outside world through solid rock. With so many nooks and crannies within the cave, there were plenty of spaces to accommodate a growing family. Although there were many small entrances/exits to the cave, the largest and most easily noticeable entrance was flooded for several hours a day during high tide along with a good portion of the cave’s internal space. This flooding feature, along with being out in the middle of nowhere kept the Bean family’s cave home and overall activities a secret from society for over 25 years.
East Lothian Scotland
Sawney’s Cave
  • So here we are, a young couple ran away from their families, one a trade-less and skill-less poor man, the other a witch. They now had a home, but no source of income. So Sawney got to work robbing and mugging people who traveled the nearest road, a very rural area secluded from any sign of civilization besides this road, it was a great spot for such a crime. But when Sawney went into town for supplies he realized that he could be recognized by one of his victims.
    • So he decided to just kill them instead. Problem solved, no one to recognize him when he went into town… but wait, there is a more efficient way to do this. Instead of robbing people for money to then buy food in town, why not keep their corpses for food. It kills two birds with one stone. Killing them keeps them from recognizing him when he goes into town all the time for food AND puts a good source of protein on the table for the misses!
      • This is the cold calculating thought process of a psychopath who’s sin of choice is sloth… laziness.
    • All that long pig meat on the table must have kept the Beans healthy because it wasn’t long until the two started popping out kids like it was nobody’s business.
      • The term Long Pig refers to human flesh, specifically used for human consumption. It is a translation of a term formerly used in some Pacific islands for human flesh as food. And is a horrifying term to most people.
    • Sawney and Agnes produced six daughters, eight sons. These kids were all raised on long pig and therefore it was normal to them to murder and cannibalize people.
    • Then Sawney and Agnes had 14 granddaughters, and 18 grandsons. How wonderful, the family from hell is growing… Various grandchildren were products of incest between their children. All these new mouths to feed, the need to put food on the table increased as well.
    • Over the next couple of decades, more and more people would go missing on this narrow secluded road. It seemed that anyone who traveled on it would never be seen again. And so generations of Beans were now murdering and eating their fellow man. They got good at it.
    • The Bean family had become regular Gordon Ramsey’s of cannibalism. They refined their skills of salting and pickling human flesh for preservation’s sake. Jars of preserved human flesh were washing ashore in the area and people had no idea where they were coming from.
    • For over two decades the Bean family, led by Sawney and Agnes, had lived in their remote cave of horrors. They had literally lived off members of society without ever having to face the consequences of society… until…
  • Even with no evidence left behind, such a large list of missing persons from the same area is bound to be noticed. This is possibly the largest list of missing persons in history.
    • Huge search parties were eventually created to look for the missing people or even their murderers, but no one found a community, house, or camp… no one thought to look in the cave.
    • By now, the Bean family had almost 50 members and were taking out entire parties of travelers on the road. They would carefully ambush parties upwards of a dozen, kill them with precision, and take the corpses back to the cave where the women of the clan would prepare the bodies for feasts.

  • But the Bean clan’s idea of paradise couldn’t last forever. Even plans that have been layed out and executed without fail thousands of times can still go wrong. That is life, that is reality. Eventually, stuff goes awry.
    • One evening the Sawney Bean clan set out in their plans to execute the tried and true ambush tactic that by now had military-like precision. They spotted a man and his wife on horseback returning from a nearby fair.
    • One group of Beans set out to pull the wife off of her horse while the other set out for the man. The group that went out after the wife reached their target first. They pulled her from her horse, stripped her of her clothes, and quickly began to disembowel her. This all happened before the other group reached the man.
    • The husband turned back to see his wife being gutted like wild game after a hunt while she was still alive, but no hope of surviving. When the man saw a large group of these savages coming for him and his mount he fought with great desperation, plunging himself and his horse into the heart of the group trying to attack him. As he fought, a large group of citizens who were also leaving the nearby fair came across the grisly scene, there were about 20 of them.
    • The Bean clan was outnumbered for the first time. They decided to retreat. In a panic they had left the corpse of the woman behind as evidence… they had also left behind the grieving husband, and 20 or so witnesses.
    • The man who had recently become a widower went before the Chief Magistrate of Glasgow Scotland
      • I’ve been to Glasgow. It is a beautiful city and I highly recommend you check it out if you ever get the chance.
    • The Chief Magistrate was told the man’s tale, how his wife was attacked and gutted like an animal. Chief Magistrate connected this story with the longest missing person list in history and the washed-up pickle jars of human remains. He decided this went even higher than his station as Chief Magistrate and involved King James I.
    • When the King got involved it was clear that a solution would be found. King James I brought a small army of 400 men with some tracking dogs and local volunteers and proceeded to launch the largest manhunt that Ayrshire Scotland had ever seen.
      • The King was not messing around with an unknown number of inbred hillbilly cannibals attacking his people. When he found out the area that had been plagued by disappearances wasn’t the work of some ghost or apparition, but a real-life clan of murderers, he went to work.
  • At first, this massive search party found nothing. No community, no house, not even a camp to suggest someone inhabited the area. The Ayrshire countryside and coastline seemed to be empty of any human presence besides their own. This was the same result as past search parties had found. But this search party had the support of the King and his well-trained tracking dogs. One of the hounds caught the scent of all that blood and rotting flesh as it passed along the shoreline.
    • The hound leads the party to Bennane cave, the home of the Sawney Bean clan. They began to enter, swords at the ready and torches in hand to light the way. As they went along the mile-long cave tunnels the smell became strong enough for the men to notice… it was the stench of death.
  • The horrors that were witnessed within the cave were too much for most of the men to handle. Some fled in fear when they saw the hundreds of rows of human limbs hanging on the walls. More fled from the search party as they came upon human meat hanging from hooks like in a butcher shop.
    • As the party ventured further within the cave’s wet and putrid tunnels they saw nooks and crannies each with designated piles of clothing, watches, jewelry, and discarded bones.
    • Once they reached where the clan was lying in wait, the search party was fortunate enough to take the clan by surprise. There was a scuffle, but it did not last long. Without their carefully laid ambushes, the Sawney Bean clan couldn’t put up much of a fight.
    • All 48 of the clan were arrested and taken to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, escorted by the King himself.
    • Scotland is known for its complicated, yet prestigious legal system separate from England’s legal system to this day… but the Sawney Bean Clan this legal system was discarded. Their crimes were too heinous and the entire clan was sentenced to death with swift punishment.
    • The very next day the men of the clan had their limbs cut and left to bleed out, the women were forced to watch. Then the women were burned as witches on giant burning pyres.


“And so the ballad of Sawney Bean records their end:

They’ve hung them high in Edinburgh toon

An likewise a their kin

An the wind blaws cauld on a their banes

An tae hell they a hae gaen.*

Please note however that although the tale of Sawney Bean and his infamous family is recorded in several notable publications, factual documentation is lacking to validate the events.”

  • Now this is quite the story and an old one at that.
    • This whole story is based on an article written by an 18th-century tabloid called The Newgate Calendar.
    • There is debate as to the existence of Sawney Bean. Was he a real person or was he just a myth? He supposedly lived during the 1500s, yet he was first written about in the 1700s…
    • There are those who point out the close relation to Sawney Bean’s story to that of the Scottish tale of Sandy Bane, a murderer who liked to eat live cats. And Sawney Bean’s story resembling the tale of Christie Cleek, written in 1696 by Nathaniel Crouch under the pseudonym Richard Burton, set in the year 1459. Here is an exerpt.
      • “…about which time a certain thief who lived privately in a den, with his wife and children, were all burned alive, they having made it their practice for many years to kill young people and eat them; one girl only of a year old was saved, and brought up at Dundee, who at twelve years of age being found guilty of the same horrid crime, was condemned to the same punishment, and when the people followed her in great multitudes to execution, wondering at her unnatural villainy, she turned toward them, and with a cruel countenance said, “What do you thus rail at me, as if I had done such an heinous act, contrary to the nature of man? I tell you that if you did but know how pleasant the taste of man’s flesh was, none of you all would forbear to eat it;” and thus with an impenitent and stubborn mind she suffered deserved death”

  • Whether true, exaggerated truth, or pure myth, The legend of Sawney Bean has influenced more than just Wes Craven’s the Hills Have Eyes. The horror of Sawney Bean’s story has left a strong influence on today’s pop culture:
    • In the popular Japanese comic and cartoon series Attack on Titan, Hange Zoë recounts the tale of a cannibalistic clan to two captured Titans. They ended the tale by naming the two Titans “Sawney” and “Bean”.
      • Attack on Titan is a favorite anime series of mine.
    • The legend’s influence can also be seen in the movies RavenousWrong Turn and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
      • I remember Wrong Turn. That movie scared my little-boy self. It is the Story of a group of friends traveling through West Virginia and coming across a clan of inbred cannibal hill billies. So creepy
    • In the Image comics series Hack/Slash, the main character Vlad (a.k.a. “The Meatman Killer”) is eventually revealed to be a descendant of Sawney Bean.
    • The film Judge Dredd (1995) introduces the Angel Gang, a family of cannibalistic scavenging cave dwellers
      • I do remember Sylvester Stallone playing Judge Dredd and being held captive by cave-dwelling cannibals
    • The Rockstar-developed video game Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018) contains a family of savage and barbaric cave dwellers
      • Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of my favorite games. I do remember clearing out this cave of cannibals… so much fun

WOW, what a story. Horrifying. And let us say it was all a tall tale, or exaggerated… Human history is mostly unknown to us. I’m sure there was a similar story lost to history where such a thing DID happen.


Until next time 🙂