In an interview with IGN, Resident Evil Village art director Tomonori Takano elaborated on how the design for Lady Dimitrescu came to be. The team started with the concept of a “bewitching vampire” and went on to pull inspiration from several femme fatales including Anjelica Huston’s Morticia Addams, Japanese urban legend Hashaku-sama, and 16th-century Hungarian noblewoman/serial killer Elizabeth Báthory.
“In the early stages of planning, we decided on going with [a] castle and vampires motifs,” Tomori told IGN. “However, we did not want to be constrained by how vampires have been portrayed in various forms of popular entertainment.”
It’s true that the internet’s favorite Big Lady™ doesn’t really look like your traditional vampire babe. While her daughters certainly have a Dracula’s Mistresses vibe about them, Lady Dimitrescu’s aesthetic feels more like something out of a 1920’s period film. Not to mention, her staggering size definitely sets her apart from other vampire royalty. “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.”
But it’s not just that which sets her apart. Lady Dimitrescu, like the women she’s patterned after, may be scary, but she’s also elegant. While her daughters are repeatedly shown to be covered in gore, the lady of the house always looks pristine–even when she’s skewering your skull. This was intentional from the art direction team. Tanako said that they didn’t want to “lean too heavily into gothic horror designs for the entire village,” and that they had purposefully included “elements of the Great Depression-era into the overall design.”
The RE team put research into how effective their character designs actually were to make sure they were keeping with the new direction Resident Evil 7 took. “We analyzed the characters and elements in the Resident Evil series so far to see if they were truly scary,” Tanako said. “Or if they had become so conventional that they lost their effectiveness in scaring players.”
Series longtime producer Jun Takeuchi agreed saying: “If we want people to be scared, we need to think beyond the stereotypical zombies.” As the internet’s reaction has shown, a gigantic and murderous vampire with a Prohibition-era flare is certainly a step in an interesting new direction for the series.
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