Illegal downloads of modern and classic horror movies soared by 21 percent throughout the world in the weeks before Halloween, with ghost movies among the most pirated. The most downloaded movie was “Insidious,” a 2010 film starring Rose Byrne, followed by “Poltergeist” and then “The Shining,” the 1980 classic starring Jack Nicholson.

That’s according to new research unveiled Wednesday by the anti-piracy firm Irdeto, which tracked illegal peer-to-peer downloads from Oct. 14-21. Irdeto collects intelligence from torrent sites – the Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents, or YIFY, for example – on movies dating back almost 50 years. “Night of the Living Dead,” from 1968, is being downloaded alongside “The Walking Dead” and “Hotel Transylvania 2.”

It’s proof that Halloween is an international phenomenon, and everyone loves to be scared. Downloaders in Brazil, France, Spain, Russia and the U.S. pirated 42.65 of the tracked content. Americans liked slasher and ghost movies the most, while Russians favored zombie flicks like “Shaun of the Dead” and “28 Days Later.”

“As scary as this sounds, piracy data can help pay-TV and over-the-top operators understand what their customers demand and may not have legal and affordable access to,” Rory O’Connor, Irdeto’s vice president of services, said in a statement Wednesday. “Consumers in the United States gravitate to older horror flicks that generate nostalgia around Halloween."

But new shows are surging as well: “The Walking Dead” was the most pirated TV show with a scary theme, making up 44 percent of illegal TV-show downloads. After that came “American Horror Story” (with 28 percent of illegal downloads, even with Lady Gaga this season), “Dexter” (10 percent) and “Grimm” (9 percent).

Horror of Piracy Irdeto collects intelligence from torrent sites – the Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents, or YIFY, for example – on movies dating back almost 50 years. Photo: Irdeto