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The Origins of Resident Evil's Tall Vampire, Lady Dimitrescu

The inspiration behind this larger-than-(after)life villain.

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  • Photo Credit: Capcom

If you've spent any amount of time on social media during the past few months, you might have encountered images of a towering woman in white. They might have been screen captures from a video game, artwork from exuberant fans, or inspired cosplayers who loved the aesthetic of a statuesque woman wearing a stylish hat. Who is she? That's Lady Alcina Dimitrescu, a vampire from Capcom's Resident Evil Village.

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Who is Lady Dimistrescu?

The eighth installment of the long-running video game series brings back Ethan Winters, a familiar face to fans of the franchise. The premise hinges on him traveling to a mysterious European village to rescue his daughter. Unfortunately for him, four monstrous leaders govern the village—one of whom is Lady Alcina Dimitrescu.

While details remain scant ahead of the video game release, here's what we know so far about the striking woman. She's a vampire. She lives in a castle with her three daughters. And she's very, very tall.

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It's the last detail that caught the attention of internet denizens when the video game trailer dropped in late January. Her initial appearance in the trailer depicts her sitting at a makeup table, so her stature is masked. But later in the clip, her towering height becomes apparent when she must bend nearly in half to step through a doorway.

Lady Dimitrescu's character design is a departure from the Gothic Victorian look we've come to expect from our ancient vampires, or even the skintight leather-clad outfits of modern ones. Her wide-brimmed hat and pleated dress hold echoes of a different time and era. But without a doubt, her height remains the focal point of conversation.

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The interest didn't escape the notice of Capcom's game developers. The video game's art director, Tomonori Takano, even took to Twitter to share that Lady Dimitrescu's height was 9'6" in her hat and heels. The details would only serve to fuel more admiration among the vampire's fans.

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  • Photo Credit: Capcom

In an interview with IGN, Takano elaborated in-depth about the various inspirations behind the breakout character's design: "We analyzed the characters and elements in the Resident Evil series so far to see if they were truly scary or if they had become so conventional that they lost their effectiveness in scaring players." As part of that new direction, they opted to incorporate elements from the Great Depression era, which appears to have paid off so far.

As for what inspired Lady Dimitrescu herself, Takano cited three major influences. Most horror fans will recognize the name of Elizabeth Bathory. The Hungarian noblewoman has an infamous reputation for torturing and killing the poor servants who came to work for her. Looking at Lady Dimitrescu, we can see similarities. An isolated castle? People lured there to their deaths? It all checks out.

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Less obvious an inspiration might be Morticia Addams, as portrayed by Anjelica Houston in the 1991 film, The Addams Family. Morticia wears all black, while Lady Dimitrescu wears white. One leaves her long hair flowing down her back, while the other styles it in a curling bob. Here, the inspiration goes beyond the superficial and more into demeanor. Just as Morticia Addams radiated wealth and class despite her non-traditional style of dress, Lady Dimitrescu moves with aristocratic grace even though she doesn't wear a crown.

But it's the final source of inspiration for the viral sensation that many people outside of Japan may not recognize: Hasshaku-sama.

Who is Hasshaku-sama?

Hasshaku-sama, or Hachishaku-sama as she's more formally known, is a popular Japanese urban legend. Her name literally means "eight feet tall," and she has a proclivity for kidnapping children. She's also most commonly depicted as wearing a wide-brimmed hat and white sundress. Sound familiar?

Like many Japanese urban legends, the story of Hachishaku-sama originated on the anonymous internet forum, 2channel. The details vary from retelling to retelling, but the basics remain the same.

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The unlucky narrator visits his grandparents, who live in the countryside. One day, he encounters a woman wearing a wide-brimmed hat—a woman who must be about eight-feet tall, since she towers over a hedge separating them. He also notes that she has a distinct "po po po" laugh. When the narrator later tells his grandfather about the chance meeting, he learns he is in danger.

His grandfather tells him that Hachishaku-sama is a malevolent ghost that is bound to their village. Unfortunately for the narrator, she only appears to those she has taken a liking to. This is far from a good thing, because the people she likes die within a few days.

The narrator's family members and other villagers work together to help him escape. Since Hachishaku-sama is bound to the village, he'll be safe if he can leave the countryside. Of course, doing so is easier said than done. Spiritual amulets can keep her at bay, but the effects are only temporary. They eventually fail under her persistent attack. In addition, she can mimic the voices of other people so if the narrator isn't careful, he might mistake her for his own family members and be lured out of safety.

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Despite these obstacles, the narrator successfully escapes the village and, by extension, Hachishaku-sama. Victory comes at a price, though. He can never return to the countryside, which means he can never visit his grandparents again. This forced separation is devastating, especially in a culture where family usually comes first. Years later, when his grandfather dies, the narrator can't even attend the funeral. Here, the urban legend diverges into two major versions.

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  • Photo Credit: Funimation

In the first, the narrator receives a phone call informing him that one of the statues keeping Hachishaku-sama confined to the village has been destroyed. This version ends with the narrator thinking he might be hearing the ghost's distinctive laugh outside his home.

In the other retelling, the narrator receives a phone call from his grandmother asking him to visit since she's lonely after the death of her husband. Confused, he asks if that's a good idea since he was told to never return to their village. His grandmother insists everything is all right now, but the narrator reminds her about Hachishaku-sama. There's a long pause and then he hears the ghost’s laugh.

No matter which version you hear, the urban legend always ends with the sound of her laughter. Depending on the skill of the person recounting the story, the effect can be truly chilling.

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In many ways, that same menace carries over to Lady Dimitrescu. She's striking. She's stylish. She speaks in cultured tones. But when Ethan Winters comes in search of his daughter, she is clearly not his friend.

Of course, fan reception to Lady Dimitrescu has diverged from the original Hachishaku-sama urban legend. Against all expectation, a creepy figure from a Japanese internet urban legend has transformed into a social media icon. Lady Dimitrescu may not be an exact analogue to the eight-foot-tall spirit from the original ghost story, but enough similarities remain to make her recognizable to fans familiar with the creepypasta. Who could have ever predicted that a made-up figure from the shadowy corners of the internet would be immortalized in a video game franchise? Perhaps this is a sign of things to come, and we'll see more modern internet urban legends find their way in other video games.