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13 modern horror classics for any mood

A teenager learns she is under a curse after she sleeps with her boyfriend, and the only way to remove the curse is to sleep with someone else. Radius

We've seen all the lists: Old stalwarts like "Psycho," "Rosemary's Baby" and "Halloween" always make the cut for scariest movies rankings. But the 21st century has brought in a slew of new horror classics, like "The Babadook" or "The Ring."

Here are our modern horror picks to get you in the Halloween spirit, for whatever most instills fear in you -- whether you want to see zombies duke it out with humans, or possessed children terrorize their families.

1. Zombies

Cillian Murphy stars in "28 Days Later." Fox

Imagine waking up in a hospital after being in a coma? Scary.

How about waking up in a hospital after being in a coma and learning that the world has been taken over by zombies? Terrifying.

That's the premise of "28 Days Later." Cillian Murphy's character, Jim, wakes up to find that a virus has quickly spread around the world, leaving most people infected with a rage-inducing virus.

Jim finds a band of non-infected misfits and they navigate what's left of the world, all while fighting to stay alive amidst zombies. The grainy, lo-fi picture quality only adds to the spookiness of the film.

2. Vampires

The Swedish vampire film, based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, tells of a withdrawn boy who befriends a new girl in the neighborhood (Lina Leandersson) whose appetite for blood is more than unusual. Director Tomas Alfredson (who later filmed "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy") does a dandy job of balancing the shock effects and the tenderness of the young people's relationship. Magnet

Yes, you'll have to read subtitles in Swedish film "Let the Right One In," but it's totally worth it in this dark, bloody film.

The movie follows a young misfit named Oskar, who gets bullied at school. Later, he befriends his new next door neighbor, Eli, who is loyal to him, but is also a powerful vampire. When Eli moves into Oskar's building, there is a sudden uptick in bloody deaths and attacks.

Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

3. Haunted house

Patrick Wilson portrays Ed Warren, left, and Vera Farmiga portrays Lorraine Warren in a scene from "The Conjuring." AP/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures

In "The Conjuring," the Perron family has moved into an old farmhouse in Rhode Island with their five daughters, and quite quickly, some things seem off: Their dog refuses to come into the house, and is found dead in the backyard just a few days later.

Soon, the Perrons hear disembodied laughter inside the house and the girls are attacked by a spirit.

They call in paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren to help them remove the spirits from their house, but the paranormal investigators later must deal with the possession of Carolyn Perron.

The scariest part of the movie? It's all based on a true story.

4. Sexually transmitted curses

Jay learns that she has received a sexually transmitted curse in "It Follows." Radius

What's more scary than ghosts, witches and zombies combined?

STDs, for some people. Even worse -- sexually transmitted curses.

After 19-year-old Jay has sex with a new boyfriend, she finds herself tied up as he explains to her, "This thing. It's going to follow you. Somebody gave it to me and I passed it to you. Wherever you are, it's somewhere, walking straight for you."

Jay finds herself seeing someone following her out of the corner of her eye, and no matter what, she can't seem to escape it. Now, Jay and her friends must figure out how to outsmart the curse.

5. Problem children

Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman in Jennifer Kent's horror film, "The Babadook." IFC Midnight

What's scarier than kids in horror movies?

In "The Babadook," mom Amelia has trouble keeping her hyperactive six-year-old, Samuel, under control. Samuel has nightmares that a monster is coming after them, and soon, a creepy storybook called "The Babadook" shows up at their home. Samuel tells Amelia that the Babadook is the monster who haunts him, and he becomes more and more unhinged and violent as time passes.

Amelia is at first convinced that Samuel's episodes are part of a behavioral problem, but soon, she starts to doubt herself and wonders if her son was right all along.

Available on Netflix.

6. Ghost problem children

Spanish horror flick "The Orphanage" follows a woman who discovers dark secrets at her childhood home. Warner Bros.

Creepy children are scary, but ghost children are even scarier.

In "The Orphanage," adoptee Laura decides to move back to her childhood home -- she wants to reopen the orphanage and make it a home for disabled children.

But Laura's son Simon keeps saying he sees a boy wearing a sack over his head named Tomas in the home. Simon claims that Tomas has told him he is going to die, and then suddenly, Simon disappears.

Laura tries to find her son and in the process, unravels the dark secrets of the orphanage.

7. Monsters

"The Host" is a modern take on the classic monster film genre. Magnolia

Instant ramen, nuclear labs and cell phones bring a modern twist to a classic monster theme in this South Korean movie.

In "The Host," Gang-du, a vendor, sees people gathered near the river, taking photos of a creature hanging from the bridge. But soon, the photo opp turns nightmarish when the beast climbs onto the riverbank and starts killing and eating people. When the monster grabs Gang-du's daughter and disappears into the river, and Gang-du fears for the worst. Soon, the government announces that the monster is the host of an unidentified virus.

Later, Gang-du gets a phone call from his daughter, who is still alive. He embarks on a journey to save his daughter from the host.

Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

8. Campy fun

Alison Lohman stars in "Drag Me to Hell." Universal

Want to see a movie that will make you laugh and scream?

Try the very campy, over-the-top Sam Raimi film "Drag Me to Hell." Christine, a young bank employee with an ordinary life, becomes the recipient of a curse when she turns down an old woman for an extension on her mortgage payment.

Now, Christine has only three days to reverse the curse that will drag her to hell for eternity. The movie gets a little silly at times with nutty fight scenes and gross-out visuals, but you'll leave spooked and very entertained.

9. Japanese ghosts

Rachel has seven days before a curse kills her in "The Ring." Paramount

Successful remakes of Japanese horror movies like "Dark Water" and "The Grudge" took the U.S. by storm in the early 2000s, but the movie that started it all was "The Ring."

"The Ring," which starred Naomi Watts, revolves around a cursed video that kills people within seven days of viewing it. Rachel, a journalist, comes across the video and watches it, and soon, the clock is ticking.

Rachel keeps seeing a girl with long, soaking wet hair coming toward her -- an image that has now become iconic in the horror genre. Rachel investigates who the girl in the video is, and she races against the clock to save herself and her son, who has also seen the video.

10. Home invaders

Michael Pitt plays a sinister houseguest in the movie "Funny Games." Landmark

Don't expect laughs when you see "Funny Games."

The psychological thriller isn't a horror movie, so don't expect any ghosts or vampires in this film, but it may be even scarier than any zombie movie.

A nice, well-heeled family gets unexpected guests who are calm, cool and collected -- and total psychopaths. Two young men wearing country club-style outfits enter the family's home and keep them hostage in their own lake house, torturing them in a set of sadistic games.

11. Chick flick

Six girlfriends go on a caving trip gone wrong in "The Descent." Lionsgate

"The Descent" is not our ordinary chick flick -- don't expect "Clueless" or "Mean Girls."

Six girlfriends meet in Appalachia for their annual caving trip, but when a rock falls and blocks their route, the women are trapped. The friends split up and try to get out, but they soon discover that this is no ordinary caving trip -- there are creatures hidden in the dark, and the women must fight for their lives against the lurking monsters with just their wits and headlamps.

12. Self-aware horror

"Cabin in the Woods" makes fun of the horror genre but manages to still be scary. Lionsgate

"We should split up."

That's a quintessential line in horror movies, and "The Cabin in the Woods" doesn't forget to use it.

The movie, which focuses on a group of friends staying in the woods together, is a meta, self-aware horror movie that manages to still be scary even while making fun of the whole genre. Expect zombies, monsters, a werewolf and all of the other general "bad things" that happen when friends stay at a cabin in the woods in a horror movie.

13. Psycho serial killers

Cecile de France stars in "High Tension." Lionsgate

Best friends Marie and Alex are supposed to take a relaxing trip to Alex's parents' house in the country so they can study, but a serial killer interrupts their plans, and it's up to Marie to save Alex and take on the killer.

The movie follows Marie as she attempts to thwart the killer, but things may not be how they appear.

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