Succumbs was R.E.M.'s first commercially available full-length movie. Released in October 1987 by UNI/A&M, it contains video footage shot by R.E.M.'s lead singer Michael Stipe dating back to the early-1980s, while the band was still recording under the I.R.S. Records label. Stipe collaborated with local Athens, Georgia artist James Herbert for some tracks.
For fans who came to know R.E.M. after they signed on with Warner, Succumbs offers a glimpse at the unique feel of the band before their commercial success. It is available only on VHS and Laserdisc, and it is likely only available second-hand. However, all the videos contained in this package now feature on the When the Light Is Mine DVD, released in September 2006.
An introductory clip at the beginning of the collection features guitarist Peter Buck and the band's then-manager, Jefferson Holt, introducing "citizens of the future" to an "outmoded artform" called the "video", predicting it would have a staying power similar to that of Nehru jackets and other forgotten fads.