NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Resident Evil Village developers from Capcom share the origins of the tall vampire villain, Lady Dimitrescu's design, and how her popularity encouraged them.
“In the early stages of planning, we decided on going with [a] castle and vampires motifs,” says Tomonori Takano, Village’s Art Director, in a recent interview with IGN. “However, we did not want to be constrained by how vampires have been portrayed in various forms of popular entertainment.”
Takano began with the concept of a “bewitching vampire,” and says they drew inspiration from figures like famed 16th-century Hungarian noblewoman and serial killer Elizabeth Báthory, the Japanese urban legend Hashaku-sama, and Anjelica Huston’s Morticia Addams.
Lady Demitrescu definitely doesn’t look like a traditional vampire. While she’s pale and has bright yellow eyes, she looks more like she stepped out of a 1920s speakeasy rather than some Eastern European castle (and she probably stepped over people entirely on her way). “The very first piece of concept art I drew was the scene in the trailer where Lady Dimitrescu ducks down to walk through the doorway,” Takano said. “From that moment, I knew I had to do that scene.”
“Like any good character that makes people horny, [Lady Demitrescu is] a combination of a bunch of different niche fetishes,” says Emily Gaudette, a pop culture and relationship columnist who has written about the intersection of kink and pop-culture. “Obviously, she’s a vampire, and the fantasy of being devoured or consumed by a vampire is classic at this point. They desire something taboo about you – your blood, your life force – and they have to hurt you to get it, but the ecstasy of having your blood drained is always framed as sexual.”
Gaudette says that for a lot of men the idea of being physically overpowered by a woman is novel and exciting – which would help explain why there are so many memes and jokes about being stepped on, chased, or crushed by Lady Dimitrescu. “There’s been this proliferation of straight men identifying as ‘simps’ online,” she says. “It’s just a reversal of the typical hetero sub/dom dynamic.”
“A lot of memes I see are riffing on this idea that a gamer might lose on purpose to get reamed out by the giant beautiful woman, and that’s the sort of fun sexual play that a sub/dom couple might get into.”
It’s also worth noting just how stylish Lady Dimitrescu is when compared to other (no pun intended) Big Bads in the Resident Evil franchise. One of the first scenes we saw her in has her sitting in front of a mirror applying make-up. Takano says they didn’t want to “lean too heavily into gothic horror designs for the entire village,” and incorporated “elements of the Great Depression-era into the overall design.”
Even compared to past women villains in the Resident Evil series, Lady Dimitrescu stands out. She’s not some overly monstrous creature like Lisa Trevor or someone conventionally attractive that mutates into a monster like Alexia Ashford. Lady Dimitrescu sits in between the two as something wholly unique and original for Capcom.
Takano says this is a continuation of Capcom’s new direction for the series that began with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. “We analyzed the characters and elements in the Resident Evil series so far to see if they were truly scary,” says Takano, “or if they had become so conventional that they lost their effectiveness in scaring players.” He says even the series’ longtime producer, Jun Takeuchi, mused that “If we want people to be scared, we need to think beyond the stereotypical zombies.”
“I tried to forget the design logic of the past, and began to think about the best ways to create fear,” says Takano. “For Resident Evil Village, we are using similar concepts of ‘Evil’ like we did in Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, which was neither based on normal humans nor zombies.”
According to Takano, the response has been overwhelming, and even non-gaming outlets like The Guardian picked up on the internet’s new 9’6” obsession. "I don't think anyone [on the team] could have predicted how wonderfully fans have reacted to Lady Dimitrescu," says Takano. “Personally, “I was particularly struck by comments like, ‘I want to be chased by her.”.
Of course, the next chapter in the Resident Evil adventure isn’t just about big ladies with even bigger hats. “What we’ve shown so far — Lady Dimitrescu, the village, and the castle — encompass just a section of Resident Evil Village,” Takano says. “We have prepared many other elements that created a much bigger experience than Resident Evil 7 Biohazard.