Sawney Bean set for the silver screen

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FROM local legend to festival favourite, Bennane’s most famous resident is set for the silver screen.

The tale of Sawney Bean has long been terrifying the children of Scotland, but perhaps none more so than in Carrick, where the legendary murderer is said to have lived.

Sawney is reputed to have holed up in a cave at Bennane Head, near Ballantrae, with his incestuous and cannibalistic family in around the 15th or 16th century, when they would attack unwary travellers, rob them, and then eat their remains.

And around 600 years on the gruesome tale maintains a popular pull, with the story set to be immortalised in cinema at this week’s Glasgow Film Festival Frightfest.

Sawney: Flesh of Man stars West of Scotland actor David Hayman as a modern-day descendant of the original Sawney Bean, who embarks on a covert killing spree abducting young women from Scottish cities for his communion of sacrifices.

And while not set in Ayrshire – the scenery of locations including Glencoe and Skye instead providing the exterior shots – Mr Hayman said the Carrick cultural link was an inspiration for him in signing up for the film.

“I’m very fond of the area,” he said. “I used to come to Girvan for holidays.

“Every child in Scotland is aware of the tale of Sawney Bean, and especially those of my generation, so when the chance came up to play him I thought it was a great idea. I jumped at the chance.”

Director Ricky Wood agreed. “I was always fascinated by the Sawney Bean story as a child,” he said. “I was always surprised nobody had actually made the film.

“If the legend is anything to go by it would make him one of the biggest serial killers in history.”

And despite the evident attraction of the tale for contemporary horror fans – individual tickets to Sawney: Flesh of Man’s Glasgow showing having been sold out for three weeks – the film marks only the first feature-length offering for production company TVP Film.

Sawney: Flesh of Man will have its Scottish premiere in Glasgow on Friday, but the Frightfest screening will not be the first and last chance to see the grisly flick.

Lions Gate Films have already snapped up the distribution rights for North America and Canada and will be releasing the film in June 2013, while in the UK 101 Films, who distribute to supermarkets including Tesco and Asda as well as websites such as Amazon and Play.com, are also hoping for a summer release date. Negotiations are also ongoing in Australia, Germany, and Japan.

Watch the Sawney: Flesh of Man trailer here.