Harry Potter has turned into Scary Potter -- with parts of the new film deemed so frightening that parents are being warned to keep small kids away.

"I would strongly caution parents -- anyone who has a 7-year-old or younger -- to make sure they know what they're getting into," director Chris Columbus tells Time magazine.

Among the shocks in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which hits screens Nov. 15, are:

* A dead cat is hung in the hallway of the Hogwarts school.

* Innocent children are frozen stiff by a terrifying monster.

* Harry and Ron Weasley are violently thrashed by the branches of a possessed tree.

* The boys are chased through a forest by an army of giant, deadly spiders.

"It's a lot darker," said Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry.

Just how much darker? Enough so that Warner Bros. was afraid the flick would get hit with a PG-13 rating, Time says.

But despite the film's more adult tone, it managed to squeak by with the child-friendly PG rating.

The stronger material may well satisfy Potter fans who complained the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was too toned down from J.K. Rowling's book.

Columbus admits he was less than happy with Potter No. 1, despite its enormous success. "I always thought we could have gotten the visual effects better," he said.

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