This discussion of Lady Alcina Dimitrescu contains spoilers for the Resident Evil franchise and its monsters.
What’s not to love about Resident Evil Village’s Lady Alcina Dimitrescu, aka Tall Vampire Lady? There’s her imposing, statuesque form, her magnificent sense of style, that wonderful plummy accent, the way she blinks her vast, cyclopean eye as she vomits acid at you…
Actually, Capcom hasn’t revealed her final form, and it’ll likely remain a surprise until Resident Evil Village is in the wild. But going by previous titles, there’s every chance that Lady Dimitrescu, object of the internet’s collective thirst, will be an oozing abomination before the credits roll. And I’d just like to say to Capcom: Please, don’t.
Lady Dimitrescu has the potential to be one of the most interesting villains the series has seen, perhaps on par with Albert Wesker. Yes, her physical attributes are striking, especially when you factor in Resident Evil Village’s first-person perspective, but her dramatic presence is every bit as impressive. Based on what we’ve seen so far, she’d dominate the room at half her size. Vampire or otherwise, she’s not trying to steal some laughably impractical bioweapon; instead, she’s maintaining her own little fiefdom, all the while trying to deflect the wrath of “Mother Miranda.”
What makes me nervous is that the Resident Evil series has a misguided tradition of mutating its arch-foes into unrecognizable monster forms, just to turn boss fights into some show-stopping event. It was Resident Evil 2 that sparked this pattern; William Birkin’s virus-infected form was a masterpiece of body horror, from the massive eyeball to the secondary head that suggested the scientist was now a passenger in his own twisted body. Birkin’s sins, his folly, were laid bare for all to see.
Two mutations later, the “Birkin” you fought was unrecognizable, a skinless mutant cheetah with an overbite the size of a small family car. The sheer scale of your foe was still impressive, as was Birkin’s final form, a monster so huge it spanned several train cars. Even though there wasn’t a trace of Birkin left, blasting that beast back to hell felt good. But seven games and multiple spin-offs later, it’s become a disappointingly predictable trope.
It’s not just that the Resident Evil series doesn’t need massive monster boss fights. From Albert Wesker to Alexia Ashford and beyond, Resident Evil has a rogues’ gallery of evil yet charming villains. But putting enemies through a series of progressively more radical mutations robs them of their distinctive presence. On top of which, these final mutations are mute more often than not, so you’re also deprived of the banter they’ve previously been exchanging with you.
Take Lord Saddler, the gloriously over the top pantomime villain from Resident Evil 4. The leader of a religious cult, he utters gems like, “Writhe in my cage of torment, my friend!” and “Perhaps you can resist, but you cannot disobey!” By the time the final confrontation rolls around, you’re itching to wipe that smug smile off his face. But he’s reduced to a voiceless spider whose spindly form is interchangeable with any number of Dead Space bosses.
Resident Evil 7 is equally guilty of this sin. Eveline, who’s been taunting you throughout the game, ends up as a big mess of gray goo. Meanwhile, the Not a Hero DLC has you pursuing Lucas Baker, who like Eveline has been mocking you for a significant chunk of your adventure. Adrenaline flowing through your veins, you evade his Saw-style traps and corner him, only to discover he’s mutated into Generic Resident Evil Boss #72. When you finally dispatch not-Lucas, you don’t feel a single shred of satisfaction, and your thirst for vengeance goes unfulfilled.
Aside from robbing your foes of their charisma, when you’ve had multiple encounters with them, it’s a little disheartening to see them grow more powerful with each incarnation. Escalating boss fights have their roots in the arcade era, when they were a means to separate players from their hard-earned cash; they have less of a place in survival horror games. The one notable exception was the original Resident Evil 3, where Nemesis’s final form was an oozing, disintegrating mess, the satisfying culmination of all the damage you’d dealt him. But then the remake stepped in, and instead of being in pathetic ruin, Nemesis was an imposing, towering foe who’d put the alien Xenomorph queen to shame.
Capcom developers aren’t the only creatives to hit this stumbling block; they’d do well to give Stephen Norrington, director of 1998’s Blade, a call. Norrington and his team made a similar blunder when they created Wesley Snipes’ final encounter with Stephen Dorff. Dorff portrays vampire nemesis Deacon Frost and is clearly having a whale of a time doing so. But for the final encounter, the team originally replaced Dorrf with a CGI blood tornado that reportedly tested abysmally with audiences.
It wasn’t just that the CGI was a little substandard; the audience had suddenly been robbed of a villain who’d left his mark on the whole movie. Thus, the reshot final scene involved Snipes and Dorrf crossing swords so theater-goers got a satisfactory (and explosive) conclusion. It’s a lesson that was evidently lost upon the producers of Silent Hill: Revelation, who took Carrie-Anne Moss’ scenery-chewing performance and traded her for a discount cenobite.
Resident Evil Village probably isn’t going to bomb, but it’s apparent from its recent tweet that the Capcom team has underestimated just how popular Lady Dimitrescu has become. Her introduction raises so many questions. Is she actually a vampire? Is she Resident Evil Village’s version of Mr. X? Are those really her daughters? What’s her endgame? Is she content to bow to Mother Miranda, or will she Cersei Lannister the hell out of her? How many seconds after Village’s release will “THICC LADY D BIKINI MOD” land on the Steam Workshop?
So I’m hoping against hope that Capcom has the good sense to let her shine, all nine feet-plus of her. And if she has to die at the player’s hands, let it be on her feet, cursing him with her very last breath, instead of flailing her tentacles around, gurgling inhumanly through a misshapen mouth, teeth the size of dinner plates. Anything less would be a crying shame.