The Tape Recorder first appeared in the 1981 film The Evil Dead, but later appeared in other forms of official Evil Dead media and merchandise.
The tape recorder is a standard Panasonic Solid State RQ-706S, presumably made sometime in the late 1960s. It's unclear when Raymond Knowby acquired the tape recorder, but it was in his possession by the 1980s.
Necronomicon Spell Recordings
Following his discovery of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the ruins of Castle Kandar, Professor Knowby used the device to record his translations of passages found within the Book of The Dead. During one of these recording sessions, Knowby unleashed the Kandarian Demon upon his property, which turned his wife Henrietta into a Deadite. After subduing his wife by locking her in the fruit cellar of their cabin, Knowby made a new recording detailing the series of events that transpired following the accidental unleashing of the Kandarian Demon.
Events At The Cabin
Just a few days later, a group of five friends would journey to the cabin for a weekend trip, unaware of it's true ownership to the Knowby family. Two members of this group, Ash Williams and his friend Scotty, discovered the tape recorder in the fruit cellar, along with a strange knife called the Kandarian Dagger, and the Ex-Mortis itself. Later that night as a thunderstorm approached, the five gathered around the recorder and listened to Professor Knowby's tale of discovering the book, before eventually the recording of the Kandarian Demon's resurrection spell began to play.
After the woods seemingly came to life and violated his sister Cheryl, Ash went back to the tape recorder and listened to Knowby's final recording, explaining that the book and its spells truly did unleash a malevolent spirit in the forest.
The following night, Raymond's daughter Annie would arrive at the cabin, much to the surprise of Ash (who had become the lone survivor of the previous night's assault by the Kandarian Demon and the Deadites). Annie played another recording from the tape player, in which Raymond detailed the events surrounding Henrietta's possession.
More than 30 years after the events at the cabin, the tape recorder still remained intact, sitting on the floor of the cabin's living room. Covered with a fine layer of dust, the recorder was still able to function, though parts of the tape were warped.
In Other Media
- The Tape Recorder appears in the opening cutscene of Evil Dead: Hail To The King, where it is activated by Ash's severed hand to awaken the evil spirits once more.
- In the Evil Dead 2 inspired levels of Phantom Halls, the tape recorder (or multiple tape recorders) appears inside the cabin in various rooms.
- In the first volume of Dynamite Entertainment's Army of Darkness comics, the tape recorder appears in the Old School storyline, and much like it was in the Hail To The King video game, is turned on by Ash's hand.
- The Tape Recorder makes brief appearances in the first issue of Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn comic, as well as the special #0 prelude story focusing on Raymond and Henrietta Knowby.
- A miniature replica of the the tape recorder was included in NECA's "Evil Dead 2: 25th Anniversary Deadite Ash" figure, and later in the "Evil Dead 2: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Ash" re-release.
- The tape recorder seen in The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II is the same prop. Prior to being used in the films, the tape recorder was owned by Bruce Campbell's father, Charles Campbell.
- In The Evil Dead, the recorder is outfitted with one 5 inch reel and one 7 inch reel, with the tape itself being 1/4" (or 6mm) wide. In Evil Dead II, two 7 inch reels were used, one in an "X" shape and one in a "Y" shape.