Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program



McEathron, Scott


This paper examines the use of visual and aural expressionistic techniques used in Hitchcock’s films Blackmail, Psycho, and The Birds. Hitchcock’s exposure to Soviet montage and German expressionist techniques as a member of The London Film Society may have influenced Blackmail, one of his first sound films. Once mastering the aural expressionism techniques he experimented with in Blackmail, it is as if Hitchcock reverts to silent film-making in later films with Psycho and The Birds. The intensity of image and sound is why Psycho and The Birds are lasting American cultural icons. Rather than whack us over the head like modern day horror films, Psycho and The Birds stab us precisely in our cultural and individual psyches demonstrating that the horrors we fear most exist within ourselves rather than without.