Back in 1990 Tremors was released. The first of 4 movies followed by a single season of 13 TV episodes, the series became a cult classic. Developed by Stampede Entertainment the original idea was a germ born in the deserts of California.
The geographical location for Tremors is the small town of Perfection, Nevada. But where did the idea for Perfection originate? Was there a template that gave rise to Perfection? Is there some place which combines all the characteristics of Perfection Valley that actually exists in the desert southwest? Could Perfection valley actually be a compilation of Paradise and Portal Arizona, with Rodeo New Mexico, in the San Simon Valley? There are a number of correlations between the fictional setting of the Tremors series and this valley in southeastern Arizona/southwestern New Mexico and anyone who has spent time in this isolated valley can easily imagine graboids inhabiting the area.
No cell phone service characterizes Perfection Nevada and over 20 years after the release of Tremors the San Simon valley still has no cell service. The rumor mill is constantly reporting “it will be next month“ and there will be cell phone coverage. In fact it is walkie talkies or radios which are frequently used by local residents. Local businesses have introduced femtocells and other devices to create small areas of cell phone reception within the valley, but there is no general cell phone coverage.
Perfection valley is orientated north/south while the San Simon valley is also orientated north/south as part of the basin and range province of the southwest.
Perfection valley is bounded by mountain ranges on both the east and west. While the San Simon valley is bounded by the Chiricahua mountains to the west and the Peloncillo mountains to the east reaching its narrowest point between Rodeo and Portal.
The reported length of Perfection valley is between 30-50 miles. This corresponds to the length from 1-10 south to the San Bernardino valley, basically the length of the Chiricahua mountain range.
The north end of the valley is described as composed of cliffs. The San Simon valley actually ends at the base of the Mogollon rim, the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, although much further north than depicted in the movies. While the southern edge is described as a rock ridge. The San Simon valley rises to the south with a drainage divide separating it from the San Bernardino valley in the Gerinomo lava field.
A single road through the area connecting Perfection with Bixby. Rodeo sits on Highway 80 the only paved north/south road through the San Simon valley. A portion of the original coast to coast highway known as the Broadway of America, this segment of highway 80 runs from I-10 in the north to Douglas (on the way to Bisbee) in the south.
Hot springs are described and the source of heat to incubate graboid eggs. The San Simon valley has a number of geothermal resources of it’s own. Including the Hot Wells Dune Recreation Area, and several hot springs are located to the north in the valley. Residents on the east side of the San Simon valley around Rodeo also have hot wells.
A silver mine plays a prominent role in Tremors 4. The Chiricahua mine above Paradise as well as the Cochise Mine, Hilltop mine, and other small claims in the area produced a variety of minerals including silver.
Perfection was founded in 1902 the same year as Rodeo. Although Rodeo was built by the railroad and utilized for cattle shipping, not as a mining town. The town of Paradise was a mining community. Paradise received it's post office in 1901, a year earlier than Perfection.
Perfection is described as the only town in the valley, south of I-10 Rodeo is the only community out in the valley. Both Paradise and Portal are within the Chiricahua mountains.
A small number of residents. Paradise only has a couple of full time residents. It along with the valley is isolated with a population density of about 1 person/square mile.
A single Asian family is prominent in Perfection operating Chang's Market for several generations. In the book “A Portal to Paradise” an Asian ran an establishment in Paradise during its heyday as a mining town.
Changs Market, the only store in Perfection is old red building measuring 60 x 30 feet and bears a significant likeness to the Portal Peak Store, in Portal.
Scientists abound around Perfection. The American Museum of Natural History has maintained a research station for over 50 years in the canyon outside Portal. Known for the high biodiversity in the Chiricahua mountains there are many scientists who not only live in the area but also study the wildlife.
The closest town is the fictional town of Bixby. Bisbee lies in the San Pedro Valley on the west side of the Chiricahua mountains (outside of the San Simon valley). Although not the closest town it is perhaps the best known. Bisbee lies 65 miles (straight line) from Paradise. Like the fictional town of Bixby, Bisbee is also the location of the Cochise County Sheriffs administrative offices and jail are located.
The final episode of Tremors actually takes place in Cochise County, Arizona, the county where Paradise and Portal are both located.
While correlations are not causation the number of similarities suggests one of the creators or writers spent time in the area and used their observations in creating the geographical setting for Tremors. Alternatively, to much time was spent out fencing in the hot sun.
Note: This Mimbres style pictograph from the Chiricahua Mountains is labeled as a dragonfly, but it may also be interpreted as an AssBlaster, the aerial morph of a Shrieker, suggesting these "death-dealing denizens of dirt" have been in the valley for a longtime.