|“||I have seen the dark shadows moving in the woods and I have no doubt that whatever I have resurrected through this book is sure to come calling for me.||”|
— Raymond Knowby's last words
Raymond Knowby was introduced in the 1981 film The Evil Dead, where his voice (only heard on the tape recorder) was provided by Bob Dorian. His first physical appearance was in Evil Dead II, where he was portrayed by John Peakes. Nicholas Hope would later appear as Raymond in the Ash vs Evil Dead television series.
Very little is known about Raymond's early life prior to the events at the cabin, though he met and married a woman named Henrietta, and became the father of Annie Knowby on September 2nd, 1962.
Exploration of The Ruins of Castle Kandar
In 1982, Raymond (along with Henrietta, Annie, and an associate named Ed Getley) began exploring the ruins of Castle Kandar in England following it's discovery through an archeological dig. While exploring one of the many rooms of the castle, Raymond and the others discovered the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, along with the Kandarian Dagger, both of which had been hidden away in the castle since 1300 AD. Excited by his discovery, Raymond and Henrietta took the book and dagger and returned to the United States, retreating to their small cabin in the mountains of Michigan so he could translate the book in peace.
"Original" Events At The Cabin (October, 1982)
Upon their return, Raymond spent hours studying the Necronomicon, placing small notes and making recordings of translations using a reel-to-reel tape recorder. The longer Raymond spent reading the Ex-Mortis, the more he became seduced by the evil powers contained within its pages, ultimately leading to him reading (and recording) a passage that awoke the Kandarian Demon. This demon attacked Henrietta, causing her to become possessed by a Deadite spirit. Henrietta attacked Raymond, but he managed to subdue her and lock her up in the cabin's fruit cellar.
Going back to the Necronomicon for a solution to help him save his wife, Raymond discovered (or perhaps theorized on his own) that he could somehow transfer the Deadite spirit in Henrietta to another host. Returning to "civilization", he enlisted the help of one of his students, a girl named Tanya, to come back with him to help study the Necronomicon. Upon their arrival to the cabin, Raymond trapped Tanya in the cellar with the possessed Henrietta and revealed his true intentions to use the girl as the new host for the demon controlling his wife. Unfortunately, this theory of "spirit transference" was unsuccessful, and Tanya was killed, forcing Raymond to go to more extreme methods.
Through means unknown, Raymond managed to once again subdue Henrietta, but unable to bring himself to kill her as instructions in the Ex-Mortis detailed, he simply buried his wife under the dirt floor of the fruit cellar. After completing this task, Raymond recorded himself recounting the events that had unfolded since the release of the Kandarian Demon. As the recording ends, Raymond fears that the demon he unleashed on the world will soon come for him next. Presumably, his prediction came true shortly after this.
Messenger From Beyond
Raymond's spirit would eventually manifest itself in the cabin, delivering a message to his daughter Annie (who had recently arrived at the cabin with "lost pages" of the Necronomicon) and three strangers, warning them of the dangerous creature that roamed the woods around them. How he was projecting his ghastly image or where exactly he was projecting it from is unknown.
Secretly encouraged by the demon known as Baal, the Ash Williams of the 21st Century traveled back in time to shortly before his younger-self and his friends would arrive at the Knowby's cabin for a weekend camping trip in an attempt to alter his life and remove the book from the cabin entirely. The older Williams and his companions made their way to the cabin prior to Raymond's return with Tanya, where Ash (after interrogating the secretly possessed Henrietta) discovered Raymond kept the book with him at all times. Eventually, Raymond discovered Ash's presence and attempted to flee the cabin, only to run into the author of the Necronomicon herself, a Dark One called Ruby. Without any hesitation, Ruby killed Raymond before he could escape.
- In the original script for The Evil Dead, Professor Knowby's first name was Julian instead of Raymond. He was also a professor of Egyptian Mythology at the fictional Dextin University.
- Audio of Bob Dorian's voiceover from the first film is used in the 2013 Evil Dead remake and two episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead Season One (Ashes To Ashes and The Dark One).
- An early draft of the Evil Dead II script revealed Raymond's fate (which was left ambiguous in the first film). The scene involved "Annie MacDonald" coming across Professor Knowby's corpse tangled in an enormous spider-web in the woods (created by a "Demon Spider" she would encounter later), and thousands of baby spiders pouring out from the corpse's open mouth.
- Professor Knowby (portrayed by Nicholas Hope) makes a non-canon appearance in one of the "Shemp's Beer" commercials created for Ash vs Evil Dead Season Two.