The eighth mainline installment in the Resident Evil franchise got fans excited to see the continuation of the story of Ethan Winters after the events of Resident Evil 7. Presented like a dark fairy tale, Resident Evil: Village got fans intrigued about this mysterious village ruled with an iron fist by Mother Miranda. Curious about the new monsters and characters, players were excited to explore this village as they tried to rescue Ethan’s baby daughter. In a playable demo, once the player opens the door to escape the mysterious castle overlooking the village, they are immediately greeted by its ruler, a 9’6” tall, pale woman with an elegant beige dress and black hat. “So we finally meet,” she greets the players with a sly smile as she grabs them by the neck, draws her retractable claws, and finishes them off. That small appearance of Lady Alcina Dimitrescu exploded in popularity on the internet and made her the object of many fantasies and fandoms.
Lady Dimitrescu’s origins began when developers experimented with a model of Ethan’s wife, Mia, wearing a dress and hat. The result, unfortunately, did not provide any terror. It was one simple alteration that changed everything: they made her intimidatingly tall! After creating a piece of concept art of her ducking through a door, developers knew they had a unique character. The 1930s aesthetics allowed her to stand out compared to the countless vampire media. Developers used three sources of inspiration to create this new character: Elizabeth Báthory (1560-1614): a real-life Hungarian noblewoman nicknamed “The Blood Countess” who murdered hundreds of girls and women, an eight-foot-tall female spirit from Japanese folklore called the Hasshaku-sama, and Anjelica Huston’s portrayal of Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (Galiz-Rowe). Maggie Robertson’s motion capture and vocal performance as Alcina garnered her many awards. With all of these elements, Capcom was able to create another incredible femme fatale for the Resident Evil franchise not seen since Ada Wong.
Alcina’s sheer height, behavior, and gameplay mechanics adds intrigue and speculation on how she connects to the various monsters throughout the franchise. Was she a product of tyrant experimentation like Mr. X and Nemesis? How did she maintain her humanity after her mutations, like Alexia Ashford and Albert Wesker? Despite her physical changes due to Mother Miranda’s experimentations, Alcina was still able to maintain her intelligence and her humanity regardless of her drastic height, longevity, and vampiric behavior. Compared to many disgusting, terrifying monsters throughout the series, her access to the finer things in life and her sophisticated fashion makes her stand out (Kim). These elegant possessions also symbolize her loyalty and good graces with Mother Miranda. Her beige dress may look simplistic, but the folds and pleating flaunts her curvaceous body and creates the illusion of it blending into her pale skin, giving her a very womanly silhouette. This is complemented with her jet-black hair and accessories. Her design allows her to be both a nod and a standout compared to the countless media featuring vampires. Her prideful, arrogant, and confident personality is on full display with her cheeky smile and figure-hugging dress. The strength of this breakout character’s design displays her personality, tells a story, and adds intrigue to who she is.
The first impression Lady Dimitrescu made to audiences before the game was even released was immense. Fans loved her dual personality: to contrast her cruel, harsh treatment towards Ethan was her charming, motherly side; as demonstrated in how she treats her three daughters. This created a loving family that hunted for blood and looked out for each other. Another interesting aspect is how many fans and lets-play YouTubers fawn over her and express the desire to be stepped on or crushed by her. But how was she able to gain such a reaction? Especially compared to the countless sexy video game females throughout gaming history? The terror and allure of a tall, graceful, dominating woman stalking the player everywhere they go adds thrill and excitement, literally and figuratively looking down at the player as easily submissive. Erotica writer and former dominatrix Gemma Glitter explains, “People like being scared. People like feeling helpless. For a lot of people, especially those who have submissive desires or desires to be more passive, there is a thrill that comes with being under the control of others. The idea that someone is just going to take control – tell you what the f**k to do, tell you that you’re going to f**king like it – is this release of being able to sink away from this anxiety of needing to be in control.”(Nightingale) Capcom did not realize it at first, but they have created the ultimate, dominant woman that fulfilled many sexual fantasies.
Lady Dimitrescu is a prime example of strong character design. Her dress and accessories gave her an iconic look, reflected her story and personality, and added fascination. It is amazing how she achieved popularity with people who are not fans of Resident Evil or video games overall. Her design made her easily recognizable and a popular subject in fan art, cosplay, memes, and erotica. Alcina, her daughters, and the other memorable characters in this game made it one of the best-selling games of 2021 and the entire Resident Evil franchise.